Mandatory Settlement Conference
What does Mandatory Settlement Conference mean?
A mandatory settlement conference is a required meeting in California workers' compensation cases if there is a disagreement in the case. The mandatory conference settlement is held prior to trial with all parties present. Parties do not have to settle the case at the mandatory settlement conference only agree to what issues remain in contention. In some cases the mandatory settlement conference may be the first time the insurance company has fully reviewed the claim and is ready to offer a serious settlement offer.
Does the worker have to attend the mandatory settlement conference?
The injured worker is required to attend the mandatory settlement conference, although an agreement may not be reached. If an agreement is reached, however, the worker's presence at the conference insures the worker is available to sign the settlement. If no settlement is reached at that conference the case will normally be set for trial, which will be held several months in the future. Under certain conditions and a judge's approval, another settlement conference may be scheduled.
What happens at the Mandatory Settlement Conference?
The Mandatory Settlement Conference will be scheduled in a small court room at the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board office. Attorneys for both the insurance and the claimant will review the workers' compensation case together. If the disability rating for the worker is a point of contention a professional rater from the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board could also be present at the mandatory settlement conference to provide an official rating for the claimant.
Following the settlement conference, assuming there is not an agreed upon settlement, each work comp attorney will outline issues which need to be settled and those which have been agreed upon. A list of potential exhibits and witnesses, including all medical information about the case, will be included by the lawyers. After the settlement conference no more information or discovery is allowed for this workers' compensation case.
After the mandatory settlement conference
If an agreement cannot be reached after the mandatory settlement conference the judge can decide to schedule another conference (which may be done if he does not believe both parties worked sufficiently to agree to a settlement), a trial date may be set, or the work comp case may be taken off calendar, which means either a settlement has been reached, the claimant must go to an agreed medical examiner for another evaluation, or the claimant's condition has changed and another conference or trial date will be requested for sometime in the future.