Mediation is similar to a settlement conference and is used in almost all long term disability cases during a law suit. It is important because it facilitates an opportunity for you and your long term disability insurer to meet in person and reach a successful and voluntary resolution of your dispute.
The mediator is neutral and normally would have experience in civil litigation and disability law. They will also be trained in alternative dispute resolution and in assisting parties settle disability claims.
The mediator does not have the authority to decide your case or order settlement. However, their role is very important as they can help facilitate resolution and closure for you.
The process of ensuring a positive result begins well in advance of the mediation date. Your disability claim lawyer will submit relevant medical documentation to the lawyer for the insurance company months in advance. Your lawyer should meet with you to fully prepare you and to obtain an update from you about your condition. A few weeks before the mediation both lawyers will exchange mediation briefs. The brief prepared on your behalf will contain the argument as to why you should be paid disability benefits and will include supporting material. The brief prepared by your disability insurance company will contain argument and documents in support of the denial of your disability benefits.
The mediation will begin with the mediator having all parties present sign a confidentiality agreement. Each side through their lawyers will then give an opening statement. You will also have an opportunity to give a statement and this should be discussed with your disability lawyer in advance of the mediation. You do not have to speak if you don’t want to.
The opening session is then over and the parties will move to separate rooms. The mediator will then convey offers back and forth. They will encourage a compromise by discussing with each side the strength and weakness of their respective cases.
It is important to always remember that you cannot be forced to settle. You should always make sure you understand the process and seek clarification from your disability lawyer and the mediator if you are uncomfortable or confused about something.
Over 90% of disability claim law suits will end in settlement. A mediation is an effective and important way to resolve your case in your favour. If an agreement is reached, you will be asked to sign a release in exchange for settlement monies. Hopefully you will then have some closure knowing that the lawsuit is over and that you do not have to deal with your disability insurance company anymore.