Alternative Dispute Resolution

Workers' Compensation ADR Programs

ADR Methods

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) refers to a variety of processes used to resolve disputes outside of the traditional court system. ADR methods include arbitration, mediation, conciliation, and negotiation, among others. These methods aim to provide parties with a more informal, quicker, and cost-effective way of resolving disputes compared to litigation.


Arbitration involves a neutral third party, known as an arbitrator, who listens to evidence and arguments from both sides and makes a binding decision.


Mediation involves a neutral mediator who helps the parties communicate, identify their interests and reach a mutually acceptable resolution.


Conciliation is similar to mediation, but the conciliator has a more active role in proposing solutions to the parties. Conciliation is also referred to as facilitation. In many circumstances, the neutral third party in conciliation holds the job title of Ombudsman.


Negotiation is a direct negotiation between the parties themselves, without the involvement of a neutral third party.

ADR Process

Each informal ADR method is like a firewall. An ADR Process combines ADR methods in a chain to maximize the litigation avoidance qualities of ADR.

For example, many workers' compensation ADR programs have 3-step ADR processes beginning with the ombudsman stage (conciliation), then mediation, followed by binding arbitration. This means that a dispute among the parties must first be addressed by the ombudsman before proceeding to mediation. Likewise, the dispute only proceeds to arbitration if it remains unresolved after the mediation stage.

With effective ADR program rules, this 3-step ADR process results in most workers' comp disputes being resolved without the need for arbitration.

Mutually Acceptable Solution

ADR has several benefits over traditional litigation. It is often less expensive, less formal, less time-consuming and less stressful than going to court. Additionally, ADR provides parties with greater control over the outcome of their dispute, as they are able to craft a mutually acceptable solution that meets their individual needs and interests.