When The Injured Worker Calls- Ethical Implications
I get calls at least once a month from represented injured workers who don’t know what is going on with their claims. Stop and think about that in light of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Typically, in violation of existing rules, the AA has not communicated with the client. Sometimes the attorney has given the client false information. Recently an IW told me his lawyer said there was no such thing as mediation for workers’ compensation cases.
Many of these IW’s are reaching out directly to the employer’s counsel to try to resolve their issues. This puts the employer’s counsel in a difficult ethical position. New Rules 4.2 (represented person) and 4.3 (unrepresented person) lay out the restrictions on defense counsel for that communication.
Frustrated injured workers who want to resolve their claims are seeking information on the internet. That’s how they get to me.
I am not an advocate for anyone; I am a professional neutral. I have always made that role clear to callers. New Rule 2.4 requires mediators to inform unrepresented parties of the mediator’s neutrality. All I can do is assure the workers that I am available to mediate and to talk to their lawyers or adjusters about starting the process.
If you get a call from someone who wants to mediate, don’t brush off that inquiry. There is no charge to talk to me about whether mediation is right for your case. I’ll give you the information you need.