My employer stopped my benefits illegally ( payments stopped on 12 / 5 / 13 without a WC order or proper filing ) . A petition to reinstate benefits and penalty request was filed . I recently had a WC petition hearing where I testified . At the end the WC asked if either lawyer wanted to participate in a mediation and both lawyers agreed . The WC issued a date for a hearing . What will happen at the mediation hearing ? Will I get the payments they're holding illegally and penalties ?
From the information you have provided, it appears as if you are represented by counsel, and therefore, these questions should be posed to your Attorney as he or she would be in the best position to provide you with appropriate answers. If you are not represented by counsel, it is imperative that you immediately contact and Attorney who is experienced in handling Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Claims to assist you with this process.
Although the Mediation Conference is considered "mandatory" it is not binding upon either party and more often than not it has been my experience that the "mandatory" Mediation Conferences are less successful than those scheduled voluntarily by the parties.
The purpose of the Mediation Conference is to attempt to settle the Workers Compensation Case and/or resolve a portion of the claim and narrow the issues to be decided by the Workers Compensation Judge. It will be heard by a Workers Compensation Judge who will not decide your case and will attempt to facilitate a settlement by discussing your case with each party separately and on occasion together.
Although you may be correct that the Workers Compensation Carrier has violated the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act by "illegally" stopping your check the Mediating Judge does not have the authority to Order the Workers Compensation Carrier to reinstate your benefits, although the Judge makes strongly urge them to do so.
As noted above, if represented by counsel I suggest you contact your Attorney to discuss these issues in greater detail so that you will be prepared for the Mediation Conference. If not represented by counsel you should immediately contact an Attorney experienced in handling Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Claims to secure a consultation and determine your rights pursuant to the Act. Most Attorneys handling Workers Compensation Cases do not charge for the initial consultation and will accept your claim on a Contingent Fee Basis.
This is the second question this week that I have answered where someone asks about what happens at a mediation. Here is what I am concerned about. You have a lawyer. Why are you asking this question on a public web site? Is your lawyer not answering your questions? Do you not trust your lawyer? If you don't trust your lawyer you have a really big problem. Does your lawyer say that he or she doesn't know the answers to your questions? If so, then you have a really, really big problem. You should ask your lawyer these questions. And if you get a "deer-caught-in-the-headlight" look from your lawyer...well....you might have to make a few telephone calls. If your lawyer is not calling you back, there are lots of fish in the sea (just take a look at avvo.com!) and there are lots of lawyers that would gladly, willingly, happily take the time to answer all of your questions. Good luck. Looks like you might need it. (Nothing herein is legal advice. I don't know you, have never talked to you, and have only answered a blind question on a web page. And it looks like you have a lawyer.)
Your attorney will hopefully have your benefits reinstated then, or before if he reaches out to defense counsel and/or the insurance carrier. The penalty petition may take longer to resolve unless a global resolution is reached at the mediation.
You should talk with your attorney.
I can't help but echo the other attorneys' advice that you should actually be speaking with your own attorney regarding this case. Regardless, since 2007, mediation has been mandatory in all workers’ compensation cases except where the judge finds that it would be futile to attempt to settle a case. As a result, almost all workers’ compensation cases that go to court will wind up at a mediation conference.
The mediation itself is an effort by another judge to try to resolve the issues in your case. You can have a far more frank discussion of the facts in your case in front of this judge. Your attorney will be prepared to conduct the mediation. Prior to the mediation, you should have discussed goals and dollar figures with your counsel. You should, by the time of the mediation, have established your goals.
While it is an effort to settle, there is no requirement that you settle. Be prepared to walk away from the bargaining table! Sometimes, it is better to leave. You can almost always resume talks later on in the case.
If your benefits are truly being illegally withheld, your attorney should be able to get them reinstated relatively quickly. Penalties are a different question, that depends on the Judge and the excuse provided by the insurance company. You should be discussing these questions with your attorney. If you are not getting clear answers, that is concerning.
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