Workers' Compensation Mediation
Anyone can get hurt on the job. Sometimes the type of work you do is inherently dangerous or exposes you to risk, such as working in the construction field or in a factory where you’re around heavy machinery or exposed to different types of chemicals and the fumes from those chemicals. Other times, workplace hazards can be subtle, such as office worker injuries due to repetitive tasks. Even in the most seemingly safe workplace, accidents can happen. When they do, you want to know you’ll receive the benefits you’re entitled to under law to help offset the costs related to your injuries. On-the-job injuries result in expensive medical bills, lost wages, and often temporary and even permanent disabilities. While your employer should be both ready and willing to pay for costs related to your injuries, unfortunately, this is not always the case. If you and your employers are involved in a dispute over the benefits you’re entitled to under workers’ compensation, your case may be referred to mediation. Here’s what you need to know about this common process.
Workers’ Compensation Reforms
Over the last ten years, states throughout the country have passed reforms to workers’ compensation laws, in some cases making it more difficult to obtain compensation, and in others, capping the amounts of compensation injured workers are entitled to receive. Thirteen states have passed legislation requiring workers to have their injuries and the doctor’s report concerning those injuries reviewed by independent medical reviewers. Though South Carolina is not yet on the list, our neighbors in North Carolina have passed the medical review requirement, and our state could be next. The Palmetto State last enacted reforms limiting workers’ compensation in South Carolina close to ten years ago. The reforms passed included the following:
- Increased evidence standards for workers with repetitive stress injuries
- Capped limits for shoulder and hip injuries
- Increased difficulties for workers with a back injury to qualify as totally and permanently disabled
Mediation for Disputed Claims
The move towards increased scrutiny of workers’ compensation has resulted in an increase in disputed claims. If you’ve been injured on the job, and your employer or their attorneys dispute any part of your claim – either the cost of your medical care, the amount of time you will need to recover, or your level of disability – you have the right to request a hearing. Prior to a hearing being set, you will likely be scheduled for mediation. Mediation in a South Carolina workers’ compensation case allows your case to potentially be resolved before a hearing is scheduled. You, along with your employer’s representative, will meet with a mediator who will review the relevant issues in your claim. There are several things you need to be aware of before entering mediation:
- Your employer is required by law to have an attorney to represent them
- The mediator will be a neutral party, meaning they won’t advocate for either you or your employer’s side
- will be given the opportunity to discuss the relevant issues related to your claim and the dispute
Contact Our Experienced South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
If you’ve suffered an accident or illness on the job, contact the Anastopoulo Law Firm. Our experienced South Carolina worker’s compensation attorneys can help you get the benefits you deserve for your medical expenses and lost wages. If you’re involved in a dispute with your employer over benefits, you need an aggressive attorney representing you. With offices in Charleston and throughout South Carolina, we’ll fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call Akim Anastopoulo today for a free review of your case.