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 Legal Resources

Mediation of Workers' Compensation Disputes

            Mediation can be a positive alternative to litigation.  Mediation saves time and expense, removes uncertainty, and allows the parties to create a resolution of their case in a manner that serves their best interests.

            WCB offers the services of Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) trained in the formal mediation process.  WCB does not charge any fee to the parties for providing mediation services.

            Many types of cases have been found to be well suited for mediation:  mental stress cases; complex occupational disease claims; cases with old dates of injury that have both accepted and denied conditions; cases that also include claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act, civil rights claims with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, and claims with other employment-related issues; cases with permanent total disability claims; any other case that the parties consider appropriate for settlement.

            The Board's mediation program is voluntary; all parties must want to mediate the dispute.  If a case does not settle at mediation, it is simply put back on the hearing docket.  The ALJ who mediates the case will not preside at the hearing, and there is no communication between the ALJ-mediator and the trial ALJ.

            If you decide you wish to pursue mediation, WCB will schedule the mediation as soon as possible, consistent with the schedules of the parties, their representatives, and the ALJ-mediator.  Mediations are usually held at the Board office (e.g., Portland, Salem, Eugene, or Medford) closest to where the parties are located.

            The usual attendees at a mediation include the claimant, the claimant's attorney, a representative for the employer/insurer, the attorney for the employer/insurer, and anyone else with ultimate settlement authority.  In addition, the claimant's spouse or a close family member may attend.

            Again, no party to a workers' compensation case is required to pursue mediation; however, once all of the parties have expressed their desire to try mediation, it is expected that all parties will approach the mediation in good faith and commit to working toward resolution.  Depending on the complexities of the case, a mediation may take several hours, all day, or even longer to achieve resolution.  The ALJ-mediator is committed to stay with the process as long as the parties are making progress.

            In an effort to get mediations docketed as quickly as possible, WCB has created an "ALJ-Mediator Availability List."  Here's how it works:

On WCB's website home page, under "WCB on the Web," click on the words "ALJ-Mediator Availability List."  That will take you to the List, which shows the names of the ALJs who potentially are available to do mediations.  If one or more dates are listed under a particular ALJ's name, that means that at that point in time the ALJ is available to do a mediation on such date(s).  If you identify an ALJ-mediator and a date that works for you, and you subsequently confirm with opposing counsel that the date will work for him/her, you can call the ALJ-mediator's secretary and get the mediation scheduled on that date.  After the mediation has been scheduled, WCB will remove the date from the "ALJ-Mediator Availability List" on our website. 

            If you have any questions about this mediation scheduling process, or about WCB's mediation program in general, please contact the Presiding ALJ's administrative assistant at (503) 934-0104.

Mediator Availability Calendar