The goal of ADR is to provide the workers' compensation system with an expeditious and efficient alternative to litigation for the resolution of disputes. By facilitating better communication between the parties, ADR aims to provide a better understanding of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act and Commission processes.
ADR staff answers questions and provides assistance regarding workers' compensation benefits and Commission procedures. Our specialists work to quickly resolve issues and disputes by facilitating the exchange of information between the parties. As of January 1, 2020, the ADR department has 22 certified mediators conducting mediations daily in 9 locations throughout Virginia.
Mediation is a voluntary and confidential informal dispute resolution process where a neutral third party (mediator) facilitates communication to assist the parties in mediating an agreeable solution. The purpose of mediation is to identify issues, clarify misunderstandings, explore solutions and mediate an agreement. Any party to a claim may request mediation to resolve a dispute quickly or to negotiate the compromise settlement of a claim.
If a case is set for hearing prior to the scheduled mediation, the parties must contact the Deputy Commissioner with whom the hearing is scheduled to request a continuance. Continuances are granted at the discretion of the Deputy Commissioner. Parties retain their right to a hearing before the Commission if a dispute is not resolved through mediation.
The mediator may provide information about the process, raise issues and help explore options, but the primary role of the mediator is to facilitate a voluntary resolution by the parties. The mediators are employees of the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission who are familiar with Workers' Compensation law and trained and certified in the mediation process pursuant to guidelines promulgated by the Supreme Court of Virginia.
All mediation services are free and provide parties the opportunity to resolve disputes or claims quickly, informally and confidentially. Additional information on Mediation may be obtained by calling the Commission toll-free at 877-664-2566, or by calling the ADR Department directly at 804-205-3139.
Requests for Mediation must be made in writing and may be submitted through WebFile or faxed to the attention of the ADR Department at 804-823-6904. You may complete the Issue Mediation Request Form or the Full and Final Mediation Request Form. Submission details are included on those forms.
Anyone may request mediation of issues in a case at any time. The Request is reviewed by the ADR Department. If the issue is appropriate for mediation, Issue Mediation is offered.
All parties must agree to Issue Mediation, which may occur on the telephone or in person. Counsel may appear on behalf of parties in Issue Mediation, or all parties and counsel may appear. Issue Mediations are generally set for one and a half hours, unless the parties specifically request additional time.
These are the issues most often mediated:
- Medical treatment
- Medical bills
- Average weekly wage
- Temporary Partial rates
- Closed periods of Temporary Total
- Return to work
Full and Final Mediations
Representation by counsel is required for all parties who wish to mediate a compromise settlement of their claim. Request for mediation of compromise settlement may be submitted at any time, and must be submitted in writing to the ADR Mediation Scheduler in the Richmond central office with copies to all parties. The request for mediation of compromise settlement must stipulate that all parties are in agreement and plan to come prepared to mediate, which includes settlement authority.
Full and Final Mediations are generally scheduled for three hours, unless the parties specifically request additional time.
Interpreters may be provided by the Commission for non-English speaking participants in all forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution and mediation proceedings, including orientation sessions, issue facilitations, issue mediations, and full and final mediations, whether in person or by phone.