When there is a dispute about whether workers' compensation benefits are owed or the type and amount of benefits that should be paid, either a claimant or his or her employer's workers' compensation insurance carrier can start the dispute resolution process. The Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) administers this process. An employee can start the dispute resolution process by filing an employee's claim, which is a Form 110. An insurer may also trigger the dispute resolution process if it files a complaint for discontinuation, modification, or recoupment of benefits (Form 108). The first step in the dispute resolution process is a conciliation session. The representation of a Boston conciliation session attorney may be critical to an employee navigating this process. At Pulgini & Norton, our dedicated workers’ compensation lawyers can advise employees on their rights and options.Advocating for Your Interests during a Conciliation Session
The conciliation session is just the first of five stages. You are not required to have an attorney for this step. However, what happens at the conciliation can be significant and set the tone for the rest of the dispute resolution process. It can be helpful to consult and retain an experienced workers' compensation attorney who can navigate the process on your behalf.
The DIA schedules the conciliation session when it receives your claim for benefits or the insurer's complaint to discontinue or modify benefits. The session is usually scheduled for about 30 days after the filing of the claim.
The conciliation is an informal meeting attended by you, the insurer, and both of your attorneys, as well as a conciliator. You need to come to the conciliation with medical documentation that supports your claim and be prepared to state your case for benefits. The conciliator facilitates the session but does not act as either party's attorney. The goal of the conciliation is to reach a voluntary agreement between the insurer and you. The conciliator tries to find a way for the parties to come to an agreement, and if they cannot, the conciliator can ensure there is enough medical documentation for your claim and forward it to the Division of Dispute Resolution. In some cases, both parties hope to resolve the dispute, and the conciliator can work to achieve a satisfactory outcome. However, any decision made at this stage is only binding if both parties agree. If no decision is reached, the next step is the conference, which is also informal.
At the conference, however, you can informally submit documentation and other evidence to an administrative judge, and you can present arguments about why you should be awarded benefits. The insurer's attorneys will argue their position that you are not entitled to benefits or that you are entitled to fewer benefits. The judge may ask you questions. Temporary orders may be issued that award you benefits or deny your claim. In some cases, a judge will order modified benefits.Enlist a Knowledgeable Conciliation Session Attorney in Boston
A conciliation session is informal, but it is still important. An experienced workplace accident attorney can guide you through the process. At Pulgini & Norton, our Boston workers’ compensation lawyers strive to protect your interests from the start of your workers' compensation claim. We also represent individuals in Medford, Lowell, Quincy, and other cities in Massachusetts. Call us at 781-843-2200 or contact us via our online form for a free consultation.