Have you been injured on the job and filed for workers' compensation only to have your application denied? Are you considering litigation against your employer or the insurance company to secure the benefits to which you are entitled?
If your employer's insurer denied your claim for workers' compensation, you have options to appeal the denial and seek to secure your rightful benefits. Although you can file a lawsuit in state court to contest the denial of your claim, Alabama has a program designed to hear such cases without the need for expensive litigation. The Ombudsman program is a mediation process that was established in 1992 and offers several benefits to disputing the matter in court.
Benefit #1: Quicker results
By using a mediator, called the Ombudsman, your case will be handled more quickly than it would if you go to court. The Ombudsman is an impartial third party who will facilitate negotiations between you and the other party. Throughout the mediation, the Ombudsman will work to identify sticking points and issues with the dispute. He or she will also clarify misunderstandings and help devise solutions that are mutually agreeable.
Benefit #2: Cost
Going to court can be expensive. However, the Ombudsman program is free for participants because the state's Workers' Compensation Division covers the costs. Although you can (and should) retain a lawyer to assist you throughout the mediation process, you may not have to retain an attorney for the same amount of time as you would if you went to court.
Benefit #3: More effective communication
Using mediation allows you to communicate with the party responsible for making decisions about your claim. By allowing an Ombudsman to relay your complaints and concessions directly to the other party, you can open up a line of communication not available in a courtroom setting.
Benefit #4: Building relationships
Maintaining a good relationship with the other party is especially important if you will have to work with the other party after reaching a settlement. By using mediation, you are more likely to maintain a healthy working relationship with the other party and remain on good terms.
Benefit #5: Flexibility
You can set up a mediation session more quickly than waiting for a court to hear your dispute. Additionally, the session can occur at a place and time more convenient for you. During the mediation, you may be able to reach a settlement that offers more than just money, allowing for more options to settle the dispute.
While appealing a denied worker's compensation claim can seem overwhelming, it doesn't have to be. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can help you understand your options and represent you throughout all stages of the mediation process. If you live in Alabama and need assistance appealing your workers' compensation claim denial, contact an attorney to see if the Ombudsman mediation program could be right for you.