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Conciliation's role in the workers' compensation system

It may be scary to hear, but going to work can be dangerous. Whether one works in an inherently hazardous profession or a job with light routine duties, anyone can fall victim to workplace injuries. Though it may be hard to deal with the physical pain of those injuries, it may just be the beginning of an injured worker's struggle. He or she may require medical treatment and rehabilitation, and the worker's wages may disappear when he or she takes time off work to recover.

The workers' compensation system exists to help those who find themselves in such a situation. Yet, the claims process itself can be a headache. Though many think of lengthy hearings, denials, and appeals when contemplating the system, these very formal engagements do not necessarily have to play out. Instead, a workplace accident victim may choose reconciliation.

Reconciliation is an informal meeting between an injured worker, his or her attorney, the insurer, and an official known as a conciliator. The purpose of one of these meetings is to attempt to reach an agreeable resolution for all parties involved. An agreement does not have to be reached, but if it is, then the process may play out much quicker, allowing a victim to receive his or her benefits sooner.

With that being said, an individual who injured on the job should not rush to reach an agreement just so he or she can get a paycheck. It may be wiser to thoroughly discuss the matter with an experienced workers' compensation attorney who can help the victim decide what is a fair settlement amount that is worthy of acceptance. Then, an injured worker can go into the conciliation knowing where he or she stands and prepared to take the matter forward if need be.

Source: Massachusetts Department of Labor and Workforce Development, "What is a conciliation," accessed on Aug. 28, 2015

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