Truck driving is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. In fact, transportation on a whole is one of the riskiest fields to work in, even for private pilots who fly smaller planes. If you get injured on the job, the best-case scenario involves your employer providing benefits without a fuss. Unfortunately, many companies are more concerned about their bottom line than their workers.
One of the first questions you may have is if there is a way to get around mediation when you request a hearing. The North Carolina Industrial Commission estimates that virtually all cases get automatically moved to mediation when someone requests a workers’ comp hearing. There are some exceptions that truck drivers might take advantage of. One of these is when injured workers do not have counsel representation. Another is when employers do not have insurance. On the other hand, mediation is often an effective method to resolve cases, without the necessity of a trial process. One advantage is control—if the parties reach an agreement, they each decide on the result. If they do not, a hearing is held before the Industrial Commission, and the result is chosen by a Deputy Commissioner. And somebody will lose.
When it comes to selecting a mediator, you usually have the opportunity to select one with your employer. The IC states that the individual must hold a certification from the Dispute Resolution Commission. If you or your employer does not already have a mediator selected, then you can check the Commission’s website for eligible professionals.
Note that both parties have a say in who the mediator may be. Both parties have the opportunity to send letters to the Commission and the opposing party on this matter. You can also recommend more than one professionals. If the opposing party does not reply, then the party that submitted suggestions gets their choice. If the opposing party objects to any appointments, then the Commission may honor this.
Finally, there are fees to consider. The mediator fee, for mediators chosen by the Industrial Commission, is $150 per hour. There is also a case administrative fee of $150. When cases involve appointed mediators and someone postpones, the fee for that ranges from $150 to $300. Mediators chosen by agreement of the parties, which is how things go in almost every case, in which both parties are represented by lawyers, are generally paid more than that. For workers’ compensation cases, the defendant typically pays the full fees and may be reimbursed when the case concludes.