What is a Mediation in Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation?
If you have an open workers’ compensation case in Pennsylvania there’s a strong chance that at some point you may have to appear in front of a Workers’ Compensation Judge, especially if you have a serious injury that may prevent you from returning to your pre-injury job. If you have an accepted workers’ compensation claim it doesn’t mean the employer will continue to pay you total disability benefits for the rest of your life even if you can’t return to your pre-injury job. Employers will attempt to limit their financial exposure by paying for medical exams in the hope that a doctor will find you fully recovered or at least partially recovered enough to reduce your total disability benefits based on other work you could perform with your restrictions. If that happens you will have to appear before a Workers’ Compensation Judge and at some point you will most likely have to attend a mediation.
Mediations normally take place with a Judge who is not affiliated with the active case. The mediating Workers’ Compensation Judge will attempt to work out a settlement of the matter which usually involves paying you, the Claimant, a lump sum of money. Prior to the mediation, the mediating Judge will usually require a mediation statement that provides important information that the Workers’ Compensation Judge will need to get a sense of the case, such as: your average weekly wage; your workers compensation payable rate; the amount of unemployment compensation benefits you may have received; and what the strengths and weaknesses of your case may be. Providing all the information the mediating Workers’ Compensation Judge needs is important to establish the full value of your case and to maximize your financial recovery. It’s important to understand, however, that the mediation Judge is not there to advise you as to the all the implications and legal ramifications if you do settle the case. For example, if the employer requires you to resign, how that will impact your eligibility for unemployment, retirement or disability benefits; how will your lump sum be affected if you apply for Social Security Disability; or whether you may be eligible to pursue claims against any other entities if they were responsible for causing your work related injury.
If you have questions regarding your rights, how to maximize your recovery in a mediation or whether settlement is right for you it is important that you speak to an experienced Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation attorney. Call our office for a free consultation at 717-238-1657.