When litigation begins in a workers’ compensation case in Pennsylvania, by law, a “Mandatory Mediation” must be conducted (unless such a mediation would be “futile.”). The guidelines for these Mandatory Mediations can vary by the hearing office involved (generally, each county in Pennsylvania has a workers’ compensation hearing office).
Recently, the Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Hearing Office issued a statement containing the policy of that office for Mandatory Mediations. By the law, the mediations will be scheduled in each case, unless the Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) assigned to the case deems it futile. The date of the Mandatory Mediation will be determined with input from the attorneys on each case (as some cases require testimony or depositions to be completed before the parties are in a position to discuss settlement of a case). The policy makes clear that no continuances will be granted for Mandatory Mediations. If a Mandatory Mediation is cancelled, and the parties still wish to have a mediation done, the parties must approach another WCJ and schedule a Voluntary Mediation.