What should you expect after you start the workers' comp process in North Carolina? Once a Form 33 request for hearing has been filed, the Industrial Commission will order that the workers' compensation case will go to mediation.
A mediation is nothing more than a settlement conference presided over by a referee called a mediator.
The Industrial Commission gives both parties an opportunity to agree upon a mediator. If the parties cannot agree, a mediator will be appointed by the Industrial Commission.
A mediator is usually a lawyer or a retired judge. The mediator is independent and does not take sides with either party. The mediator is like a referee who has no interest in the outcome of the case.
It is the mediator's job to get the parties together and to try to settle the case.
The mediated settlement conference begins with a meeting of all parties and their lawyers with the mediator. The mediator gives each side an opportunity to explain their position in the case. Thereafter, each party goes into separate rooms. The mediator moves back and forth between the rooms carrying demands and offers between the parties and tries to bring the parties closer to settlement with each trip. The ultimate goal is to reach an agreement and settle the North Carolina workers' comp case.
One advantage of using a mediator to settle the case, is that each party can tell the mediator the amount for which they would be willing to settle the case. The mediator does not divulge this number to the other side without permission. Therefore, the mediator, and only the mediator, will know the final position of each side and will therefore be in a better position to bring the parties together.
The Industrial Commission orders mediation in almost every case. In rare circumstances, the Industrial Commission may decide that a mediation is not required. In the absence of a special order by the Industrial Commission, a case cannot be heard by a Deputy Industrial Commissioner unless there is a mediation.
The mediation process has worked surprisingly well, and it is estimated that well over half of the North Carolina workers' comp cases are settled ou-of-court in mediation. This is a great benefit to the injured worker because his case is settled quickly and in an amount that satisfies the worker's demand.
Learn how long you can expect to wait for North Carolina workers' comp benefits to begin.