To aid disputing parties in resolving their workers' compensation controversy, some states utilize an ombudsman program. An ombudsman focuses on helping the injured worker navigate the procedural complexities of the workers' compensation system. By doing so, the ombudsman not only serves to aid the worker in recognizing his rights and gaining the benefits due to him, but also provides the worker with an enhanced knowledge of workers' compensation in relation to his injury to make thoughtful and considered choices regarding his claim. The ombudsman is not limited to only helping injured workers. He may also provide a supportive role to the employer.
In many instances, the enhanced knowledge of the worker and the employer, through the aid of the ombudsman, may actually prevent some disputes. Those states utilizing an ombudsman program, therefore, view it as an ADR method because of its success in reducing the number of disputes or, at the least, narrowing the number of issues to be resolved in a more formal setting. Notably, in some jurisdictions the role of the ombudsman can vary from merely providing information to actually functioning as a quasi-mediator.
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