The purpose of workers’ compensation is to support you financially while you recover from a workplace injury. But while you can start receiving lost wages benefits soon after filing your claim, your settlement must be approved before you can receive full compensation.
Many factors influence when workers’ comp will offer a settlement. And the uncertainty can bring additional stress that makes it harder to recover. So to help you plan your finances effectively during a difficult time, here’s what you can expect after submitting a workers’ comp claim.
How long does workers’ comp take?
In the rarest and most straightforward of circumstances, a workers’ compensation claim can be resolved in just a few weeks. But less than 20% of cases are resolved within the first six months. In fact, most claims take around 12-18 months to complete.
If your injury doesn’t result in a permanent disability and you accept the insurance company’s initial offer without hiring a lawyer, you could expect to settle your case in 12-14 months. However, this often means missing out on a lot of money that you’re entitled to.
Hiring a lawyer, on the other hand, can extend your settlement time by around 20%. While this might sound detrimental, the additional time could result in a significantly higher payout. This gives you the means to make the fullest possible recovery without unnecessary struggle or suffering.
What factors affect workers’ comp settlement time?
Your employer’s insurance company isn’t the only party whose actions affect how long your workers’ comp claim takes to resolve. There’s also your medical examiner, the courts, your workers’ comp attorney, and you.
Factors that affect how long workers’ comp takes include:
- The type of injury you have
- How long it will take you to recover
- Ongoing medical treatment
- Whether you’ll have a permanent disability
- Whether you hire a workers’ comp lawyer
- Whether you negotiate the insurance company’s initial offer
- Whether you have to take the case to court
- Whether you file an appeal
- Difficulties in seeing a doctor or specialist
- Whether you require surgery
- Ignoring requests for medical treatment
- Delays in scheduling
- Slow response times from all parties
How the insurance company might try to derail your claim
The goal of your employer’s insurance company isn’t to support your recovery. It’s to ensure they sustain minimal financial losses. Sometimes, that means making your workers’ comp claim process as difficult and lengthy as possible to encourage you to accept a smaller offer.
One common tactic insurance companies use is to delay each step of the process. You might find yourself waiting a very long time to receive an offer or answers to your inquiries. And they might be very slow to review your case, follow it up, and set deadlines.
Another attempt to derail your claim might be to contest your rate of impairment since this is a major factor in how much they’re required to give you. If your doctor measures your rate of impairment at 20%, the insurance company’s medical professional might instead argue that it’s only 10%. Reaching a consensus can often add almost five months to your case.
Unfortunately, these are highly effective strategies for forcing a claimant to accept the settlement amount they’re offered rather than negotiating for a suitable payout. But giving in can put you in a very difficult financial position that brings even greater problems down the line. Hiring a workers’ comp lawyer to negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf can save you a lot of stress and lead to the fair settlement you deserve.
How does a workers’ comp lawyer support your case?
If you feel the insurance company’s initial offer doesn’t reflect the compensation you’re owed, you’re free to negotiate with them yourself. But without knowledge of workers’ comp laws in your state, precedents set by other cases, and common derailing tactics, defending your claim can be incredibly tough. You might spend months trying to reach an appropriate settlement, only to accept the initial offer out of frustration.
Hiring a workers’ comp lawyer places the task of legal negotiations in the hands of a trained and experienced professional. Not only does this relieve a great deal of strain, but it also ensures these negotiations are handled effectively. With their extensive knowledge of workers’ comp law, your attorney can make a powerful case for receiving a higher settlement from the insurance company.
Once you hire a workers’ comp lawyer, they begin by drafting a demand letter that includes the settlement amount you require to settle the case. This demand is supported by evidence such as medical records and workplace security footage that your lawyer gathers on your behalf.
After the insurance company receives that letter, they return with a counteroffer. Your lawyer and the insurance company continue to negotiate until they reach an agreement. At each step in this process, your lawyer works with you to ensure you approve of the actions they recommend.
Before your settlement can be finalized, it must be approved by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. A hearing will be held to review your settlement, and they will either confirm the amount or reject it if they believe you still aren’t being awarded a high enough sum. When a consensus has been reached, you’ll be awarded your workers’ comp settlement payment and the case will be closed.
Ensure a fair and efficient settlement with Phalen Law
Hiring a workers’ comp lawyer gives you the highest possible chance of receiving a payout reflecting your injuries. And the best way to ensure your case is handled in a timely and efficient manner is to choose an experienced local firm with an exceptional track record.
Here at Phalen Law, we have over 50 years of experience winning workers’ compensation claims for injured workers across Kansas and Missouri. Our detailed knowledge of workers’ comp laws and the tactics insurance companies use to derail claims means we can always stay one step ahead. And while working hard to bring your case to a quick and satisfying close, we always take the time to make you feel heard and understood.
Call us or complete our Free Case Evaluation form online to give us the details of your workers’ compensation claim.