How to Close Old Work Comp Claims

Mediation can close those nagging, old cases where the worker represents himself and may not even state a recognizable claim.

You know the claims I'm talking about: the really old claims where the injured worker is representing himself. Let's call them the SRAs, self-represented applicants. Active SRAs file one court paper after another, causing the insurer or self-insured employer to fund what seems like a never-ending stream of visits by a representative to the board.

The SRA's papers may not state a recognizable claim. Pressed for time, the information and assistance officer may give the SRA short shrift. Defense attorneys with varying degrees of patience usually do, too.

But what if what the parties really need is a sort of an interpreter, a mediator?

Mediating an SRA's claim demonstrates respect for the SRA. The feeling of lack of respect and inability to get heard is often what drives the SRA to keep summoning the employer to court.

You may ask: "Why would I waste time and money on a worthless claim?" Because you're spending time and money now, and mediation is a way to end that endless cycle.

Sometimes the SRA has a bona fide complaint but without professional assistance has not been able to communicate it. The neutral mediator is often able to re-state the concern in a way the parties can address and get past. The mediator can help each party see the other side's point of view.

Animosity can obstruct effective communication. Caucusing allows parties to avoid direct confrontation. The parties are separated, and the mediator shuttles between rooms. The mediator presents the parties' views in a way most likely to lead to resolution.

At a minimum, mediation can improve communication and relations between the parties.

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