Michigan – The Michigan Workers’ Compensation Agency recently released the following statement on recent changes to its alternate dispute resolution policy:
In an effort to implement recent statutory changes, staff has been instructed to assign the following contested workers’ compensation claims to mediation:
- Unrepresented Claimants
- Health Care Services Rules Hearings – 104Bs
- Medical-Only Claims
- No Record of Insurance Coverage
- Vocational Rehabilitation Hearings
The cases that meet these criteria will be scheduled as teleconferences with a facilitator. The facilitator will place the call and once all of the parties are on the line, the facilitator will greet them and briefly explain the process. The facilitator will then lead the parties in a discussion allowing each party an opportunity to state their position on the disputed matter; the petitioner will be allowed to speak first. If the matter is not resolved by the facilitator within 12 weeks of the application date, the matter will be transferred to the assigned Magistrate for a trial date.
The claims that are presently on the mediation docket that fail to resolve and meet the above criteria, are to be returned to Lansing for further review and handling. All other pending mediation claims that fail to resolve should be transferred to the assigned Magistrate and placed on the trial docket.
In addition, you may have noticed over the last several months that there has been an effort on the part of the Magistrates to mediate cases prior to trial. This is a concerted effort with the anticipation that we will both decrease the number and the age of pending cases. We have asked the Magistrates to identify those cases that they believe will benefit from additional attention, and to make themselves available to parties who are interested in mediating cases prior to trial. You may contact the hearing site to determine Magistrate availability.
Source: Michigan WCA