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Workers’ Compensation & Alternative Dispute Resolution

by | Feb 25, 2015 | Workers Compensation

Many employees are familiar with the workers’ compensation system in place throughout the North Star State. Most Minnesota employees know that there is a form of insurance that will protect them if they are injured on the job. Some employees even are aware that it is a requirement for all employers in Minnesota to carry such insurance for the benefit of the employees. A few employees understand the type of benefits that they can receive in place of their regular paycheck, should they be injured on the job.

Many Minnesotans are not aware, however, of the little-known department at the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry called the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) unit.

What does the ADR unit do?

The ADR unit of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry was put in place to mediate workers’ compensation disputes between employers and employees. The ADR unit attempts to intervene in the disputes early so as to resolve the process and allow employees to receive the benefits they are entitled to without a lengthy dispute process. One of the functions of the ADR unit is to man the hotline by responding to questions from both injured employees and their employers.

What is mediation in regards to workers’ compensation?

Mediation in the field of workers’ compensation began to gain traction as other areas of law started implementing this dispute resolution process. The primary function of mediation is to allow both parties to have their viewpoints expressed and heard in a non-litigation setting. Litigation is often lengthy, unpredictable, and delays employees from receiving benefits. Mediation is a favorable alternative. ADR provides private mediators at no cost to the disputing parties. However, like litigation, mediation allows for a civilized and effective process for both the employer and employee to resolve their conflict.

How do parties prepare for mediation?

As with any legal dispute, preparation is key. For those who have a dispute with their employer or their employer’s insurance company, it is best to consult an attorney. An attorney will help you fine-tune your side of the story and highlight the information that is most helpful to your position. In addition, an attorney experienced in workers’ compensation law will help you determine what amount is appropriate to accept in your settlement negotiations. If you have never been through the process before, or if you have had an unfavorable result in a previous dispute, your attorney will help you to understand exactly what you are seeking and what law supports your position. This will help you have a more clear picture of your negotiation and put a realistic perspective on your expectations.

Keep in mind that insurance companies who manage your employer’s workers’ compensation payments are not there to offer you a generous benefits package. They are a for-profit company and they are all too often focused on their bottom line and turning a large profit. Don’t attempt to fight for your benefits on your own. Give us a call at 507-405-2442.

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