In a typical worker's compensation claim, the injured worker files a claim, negotiates with the worker's compensation insurance carrier, and then files a lawsuit if they don't reach an agreement. However, there are alternative dispute resolution (ADR) programs that you may try instead of filing a lawsuit. Here are a few examples of such programs.
Mediation is an ADR program in which two parties negotiate a resolution with the assistance of an impartial third party. You can mediate your case if both of you opt for it, a judge can order mediation, or your state's laws can force you into mediation (mediation is mandatory in some states).
The mediation process varies by state and by the mediator. In most cases, however, neither party has the right to call witnesses during the mediation process. Also, the mediator won't make a decision for you; their aim is to guide you so that you can reach a mutual agreement within the confines of the law. The mediator also has to ensure that each party has ample time to air their views and that neither of you hogs all the time.
In arbitration, you also sit down in the presence of a neutral third party. Unlike mediation, however, arbitration is not so much a negotiation as an informal trial. In this case, both parties air out their arguments, and the arbitrator makes a decision much like a judge.
Again, the arbitration process varies by state. For example, some states use single arbitrators while others use a panel of arbitrators. Also, arbitration may be mandatory or it might just be one of the ADRs available to you depending on your state.
In some states, the law allows you to 'carve out' an agreement with the employer outside the normal worker's compensation program. States that have carve-out programs do so for various reasons. For example, a direct agreement with the employers ensures a speedy resolution to worker's compensation for injured workers.
Carve-out programs also ensure worker's compensation agreements are not as adversarial as they usually are when injury victims or their lawyers deal with insurance companies. In the end, the agreements benefit both employers and their employees because the workers are also able to get back to work fast.
As you can see, there are a variety of ADRs as far as worker's compensation is concerned. The ADR program you are likely to engage in depends on various factors, including your state laws and the willingness of the other party. In most cases, however, ADR agreements are not legally binding, and you still have the right to file a worker's compensation claim if you are not satisfied with the agreement.
Contact a law firm like Kavanagh & Kavanagh Law Ofc to learn more about worker's compensation law.