Alternative Dispute Resolution Pamphlet
What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?
In alternative dispute resolution (ADR), the injured worker and employer representatives talk informally with the help of a workers' compensation judge. The judge helps the parties to settle the case by talking through their differences. ADR may take the form of mediation, a settlement conference or an informal conference.
How can ADR help me?
ADR can provide several advantages over litigating a case to decision. These include:
Saving time, money, and aggravation. If used at the right time, ADR can save one or both parties some of the costs and stress that come from trying a case to decision.
Informality. ADR involves “off-the-record” conversations instead of sworn, recorded testimony and exhibits.
Improved communications. Both sides have the chance to talk about their needs and interests. This can help the parties better understand one another, and find common ground for building an agreement.
Results that are more predictable and better centered on your needs because you have some control. A judge’s decision is limited by the evidence presented and the law. A negotiated settlement can be tailored to suit what the parties need, rather than what one party can prove.
Finality without repeated petition filings or appeals. If the judge approves a settlement agreement, the areas of disagreement are reduced or eliminated. This makes it less likely that appeals or more petitions will be filed.
Do I have to use ADR?
The decision whether to settle your case is always yours. However, if either you or your employer files a petition with the Bureau, the law requires the workers' compensation judge to schedule mediation. This mediation is mandatory unless the judge concludes that it would be futile.
May I use ADR if I don't settle after mandatory mediation?
If the case does not settle at mandatory mediation, the parties may participate in voluntary ADR later in the proceedings. The parties may also request voluntary ADR later in the proceedings if the judge had previously found it futile.
Do I have to have an attorney?
The law does not require you to have an attorney in ADR. You may find, though, that having an attorney makes ADR easier and gives you a better end result.
Note regarding informal conferences under Section 402.1 of the Workers’ Compensation Act: Each party may be represented, but the employer may only be represented by an attorney at an informal conference if the employee is also represented by an attorney.
Who would conduct the ADR session?
The judge assigned to hear your case will schedule a mandatory mediation with a judge designated by the Office of Adjudication.
The following workers’ compensation judges are available for voluntary ADR sessions where petitions are pending:
Philadelphia, Arch Street
New Castle Office
Note: An individual judge’s availability may be limited by his or her schedule or workload.
What does it cost to use ADR?
There is no cost for ADR services if provided by a workers’ compensation judge.
How do I set up a voluntary ADR session on my case?
Informal conferences may be scheduled by filing the Notice of Request for an Informal Conference form (LIBC-753) with the judge hearing the pending petitions. This form is also available from any judge’s office. Both parties must sign the form. The district judge manager will assign the case to a judge other than the judge hearing the pending petitions.
To request a voluntary mediation or settlement conference, the parties should first agree on a specific judge. Once they agree, they should contact that judge’s office directly to determine his or her availability. If the parties cannot agree on a judge to conduct the mediation or settlement conference, they should contact the district judge manager. Click here to find the judge managers' contact information.
If you would like more information or have any other questions, contact the attorney representing you in your workers’ compensation case. If you do not have an attorney, contact the office of the judge assigned to hear your case.