Mediation of Workers' Compensation Disputes
Mediation can be a positive alternative to litigation.
Mediation saves time and expense, removes uncertainty, and allows the parties
to create a resolution of their case in a manner that serves their best interests.
WCB offers the services of Administrative Law Judges
(ALJs) trained in the formal mediation process. WCB does not charge any fee
to the parties for providing mediation services.
Many types of cases have been found to be well suited
for mediation: mental stress cases; complex occupational disease claims; cases
with old dates of injury that have both accepted and denied conditions; cases
that also include claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act, civil rights
claims with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, and claims with other
employment-related issues; cases with permanent total disability claims; any
other case that the parties consider appropriate for settlement.
The Board's mediation program is voluntary;
all parties must want to mediate the dispute. If a case does not settle at
mediation, it is simply put back on the hearing docket. The ALJ who mediates
the case will not preside at the hearing, and there is no communication between
the ALJ-mediator and the trial ALJ.
If you decide you wish to pursue mediation, WCB will
schedule the mediation as soon as possible, consistent with the schedules of
the parties, their representatives, and the ALJ-mediator. Mediations are usually
held at the Board office (e.g., Portland, Salem, Eugene, or Medford) closest
to where the parties are located.
The usual attendees at a mediation include the claimant,
the claimant's attorney, a representative for the employer/insurer, the attorney
for the employer/insurer, and anyone else with ultimate settlement authority.
In addition, the claimant's spouse or a close family member may attend.
Again, no party to a workers' compensation case is
required to pursue mediation; however, once all of the parties have expressed
their desire to try mediation, it is expected that all parties will approach
the mediation in good faith and commit to working toward resolution. Depending
on the complexities of the case, a mediation may take several hours, all day,
or even longer to achieve resolution. The ALJ-mediator is committed to stay
with the process as long as the parties are making progress.
In an effort to get mediations docketed as quickly
as possible, WCB has created an "ALJ-Mediator Availability List."
Here's how it works:
If you have any questions about this mediation scheduling process, or about WCB's mediation program in general, please contact the Presiding ALJ's administrative assistant
at (503) 934-0104.