In a perfect world, settling a workers’ comp case would only take a matter of days, perhaps weeks. The system in place for determining liability and what benefits are necessary is supposed to streamline the process for workers in need of medical treatment and convalescence. However, many workers complain their cases seem to take forever.
According to a survey done by Martindale-Nolo Research, it took an average of 15.7 months for readers to resolve their cases through a voluntary settlement, with a workers’ comp attorney, or after a hearing with a judge. For many of these people, it took almost a year and a half to resolve their workers’ comp cases.
Claims Can Be Delayed by the Insurance Company
Part of what can take so long is the insurance company itself. Insurance companies will never pay what they don’t have to, so if they suspect your injury is faked or can prove the damage was caused by something unrelated to your job, they will try to keep you from receiving benefits. This tactic applies in particular in cases that may require permanent disability, which may include a large lump sum payment to the worker or weekly payment to that employee for the rest of his or her life.
When insurance companies don’t dispute a worker’s permanent disability status, the case resolved in a little over a year and a half. However, when the insurance company did challenge the employee, the case took an average of 18.7 months. The longer time frame was likely caused by additional independent medical examinations by a doctor of the insurance company’s choosing. If the doctor concluded the worker wasn’t eligible for permanent disability, the employee reviewed the conclusion and challenged it, all of which resulted in a settlement or hearing.
Cases Can Be Extended by Legal Counsel Fighting for Your Rights
Hiring a lawyer can also result in longer workers’ compensation cases. Attorneys can add time to cases because they have more tools at their disposal to challenge the insurance company and get you more benefits. Lawyers can file motions, negotiate with the insurance company, and help you get second opinions on your medical condition, all of which can take time. While many cases took longer to resolve with a lawyer, these cases also ended with better results. Those with lawyers received almost one-third more in compensation than those who didn’t.
Can I Receive Benefits Before My Case is Resolved?
Although the fact workers’ comp has a reputation for taking quite a while, you still might receive some benefits before your case is officially resolved. For example, if you need to miss work because your injuries prevent you from doing your typical job, you can receive temporary disability payments to replace part of your lost wages. These payments are typically made while the claim is being reviewed, rather than in a settlement or award at the end of a workers’ comp case.
If you need help applying for workers’ comp, or your case is taking too long to resolve, don’t hesitate to call our skilled Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys. Leonard Law Group has won more than $500 million in settlements and verdicts for our clients. Our lawyers are passionate about ensuring workers get the rights they deserve. Let us see what we can do for you.
Contact us at (312) 487-2513 or fill out our online form to schedule your free case consultation today.