If you have been injured on the job, workers’ compensation is designed to help you cover your losses and get back on your feet while also protecting your employer from the challenges associated with facing a lawsuit. In other words, workers’ compensation is designed to help balance the rights of injured employees like you and employers. If, however, your workers’ compensation claim is denied – or the settlement offer is woefully lacking – workers’ compensation mediation may be in order. If you have been injured on the job, you need the professional legal guidance of an experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney in your corner.
Workers’ compensation mediation is a mediation process that those who have been injured on the job can turn to for the help they need to resolve their claims before the matter is set for a hearing. Mediation involves addressing whatever sticking points remain – such as if your claim has been denied outright or if the settlement amount is not adequate to effectively address the losses (or legal damages) that you’ve experienced. At mediation, a professional mediator who works as a neutral third party will help you (along with your dedicated workers’ compensation attorney), and your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider explore your best options and attempt to find a middle ground on which both sides are willing to sign off. The results of mediation are only binding if both parties do reach an agreement and attach their signatures.
If you are a pro se claimant, it means that you do not have a workers’ compensation attorney representing you, and mediation is unlikely to be required (unless you request it or the Commissioner orders it). Certain situations, such as if your claim is denied outright and you are appealing the decision, typically require mediation. In these instances, you generally have 60 days for the mediation process to be completed (unless both parties agree to a different timeline).
If you and your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider are unable to resolve the issue at hand at mediation, your claim will be scheduled for a hearing with a Commissioner.
The mediator who conducts your mediation is someone to whom all the following apply:
- They have been certified through the South Carolina Bar to conduct mediations.
- They are a neutral third party who does not advocate for one side or the other.
- They are charged with helping both sides understand the issues that need to be resolved.
- They help both sides attempt to find common ground and reach a mutually acceptable settlement.
At mediation, you can expect the mediator to review your case with you and the other side. You will go over the issues that are barring you from reaching a settlement agreement and will explore potential resolutions. The mediator will also help you better understand how your claim will likely be resolved if it does go to a hearing (based on their experience with matters similar to yours).
Mediation is private. Anything that happens in mediation – and everything both parties say – remain private. No transcripts are made, and no records are kept. The matters you discuss at mediation are confidential, and if your claim does proceed to a hearing (if you aren’t ultimately able to resolve the matter), the Commissioner will hear only what you present at the hearing. In other words, whatever direction your mediation takes, it will not affect your hearing.
You are not required to have a workers’ compensation attorney, but having professional legal counsel in your corner can mean the difference between obtaining the just compensation you need to reach your fullest recovery and failing to do so. While the choice is naturally yours, working closely with a dedicated workers’ comp attorney is in your best interest.
Unless you and the other side agree to do otherwise, you will split the cost of hiring a mediator between you.
You have been injured on the job and are likely facing not only steep medical bills but also lost wages. If you are worried about how you are going to afford a workers’ compensation attorney, it is no wonder. Fortunately, however, reputable workers’ compensation attorneys generally work on what is known as contingency, meaning that their pay is contingent upon (or based upon) the outcome of your claim. If you prevail with either a settlement or an award (if your claim proceeds to a hearing), your workers’ compensation attorney will receive a prearranged percentage of the amount you receive. If your claim is ultimately denied, however, you won’t owe anything. Because you don’t shoulder any of the financial risk, hiring an attorney is far more manageable than you may realize.
It is illegal for your employer to fire you – or otherwise retaliate against you – for filing a workers’ compensation claim. This illegality, however, does not mean that employers do not engage in such tactics in order to keep filings to a minimum. Having a skilled workers’ compensation attorney on your side, however, can make a significant difference – and sends a clear message that you intend to fight for your legal rights. If you fail to file in a timely manner (for fear of retaliation) and the consequences of your injuries become more serious, you’ll be left with no legal recourse.
The seasoned South Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys at McCravy Law are well positioned and well prepared to assertively advocate for your legal rights and for your rightful compensation. For more information, please don’t wait to contact or call us at 864-388-9100 today.