Work injuries remain a serious issue in our state. According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, nearly 500,000 workers are hurt on the job annually. In California, an employee is entitled to no-fault workers’ comp insurance coverage. If you are hurt on the job, you can file for benefits, regardless of whether or not your employer was negligent.
That being said, workers’ comp disputes still happen. A mandatory settlement conference (MSC) is a type of hearing that can be requested by a worker or insurance carrier to help resolve a dispute. Here, our Fresno workers’ compensation attorney highlights the key things injured workers should know about mandatory settlement conferences in California.
Injured Workers Must Attend the Mandatory Settlement Conference
In California, injured workers are generally required to attend their own mandatory settlement conference. In some cases, an injured worker can attend the conference by “telephone” or “telephone standby” if the judge agrees that there is good cause.
To be clear, an injured worker is not required to formally testify at a mandatory workers’ comp settlement conference. Though the judge may ask a few relatively routine questions, the main purpose of attending a conference is to sign off on a workers’ comp settlement if one is reached.
Attendance is Mandatory, Settlement is Not
As noted above, the primary purpose of a mandatory settlement conference is to help parties to a workers’ compensation dispute resolve the case. When a mandatory settlement conference is requested, both parties—the injured employee and the insurance carrier—are required to attend the hearing. However, there is no requirement that parties actually need to settle the case. Generally speaking, an MSC can take one of two directions:
- The parties are able to reach a settlement of the workers’ compensation claim;
- The parties are unable to resolve the case, but can clarify which issues are still in dispute.
What happens if a settlement cannot be reached depends on the specific circumstances of the workers’ comp dispute. In most cases, the claim will be set for trial. However, there are some exceptions. A judge could order a second mandatory settlement conference if deemed appropriate and/or necessary.
Be Prepared: A Key Step in the Process
If you are an injured worker who is locked in a dispute over your workers’ comp benefits, it is imperative that you are fully prepared for the mandatory settlement conference. It is one of the most important steps in the claims process. You should always be represented by a skilled workers’ comp lawyer at the MSC.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation With a California Workers’ Comp Lawyer
Joseph C. Yrulegui has the skills, expertise, and workers’ comp claims experience that you can trust for results. If you have any questions or concerns about mandatory settlement conferences, Mr. Yrulegui can help. Call us now or get in touch with us online to set up your confidential appointment. From our office in Fresno, we represent workers throughout Fresno County, including in Selma, Sanger, Parlier, Reedley, Mendota, Kerman, Kingsburg, and Huron.