Timing is very important when you are filing a workers’ compensation claim. Since you are not able to earn money from your job, you’re relying on the benefits that replace a portion of your lost wages.
You need to know the general timelines involved in your workers’ compensation case. Your claim may take much longer if the insurance company denies it, and you are forced to appeal.
You should contact an experienced workers’ comp attorney when you need help at any stage of the process. Call Gibbons & Crichton, Personal Injury & Accident Lawyers to learn how we can help you.
Why Does a Workers’ Comp Settlement Take So Long?
Although money is a definite issue, you should also take the time to file the strongest possible claim. Pennsylvania law entitles you to workers’ compensation benefits when you have suffered a work-related injury. You need to file a claim with sufficient information for an insurance carrier or employer to reach that conclusion. You do not want to have your claim denied and be forced to go through the appeals process.
In Pennsylvania, workers’ compensation benefits are paid after the first seven days of lost work time. If you have filed for benefits, and your claim is approved, you will be paid retroactively to this date.
The Steps in a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Claim
Here are the steps in a workers’ compensation case:
- You must notify your employer that you have suffered an injury.
- You then see a doctor that your employer chooses, as they have the right to control your medical treatment in the initial phases of your claim.
- When you file your claim, your employer gets a chance to review it, along with the insurance company.
- The employer has 21 days to respond once you report the injury. They can extend the period to 90 days if they need longer to investigate, and they are temporarily paying you benefits in the meantime.
- The employer or insurance carrier can accept liability and pay your benefits or try to negotiate a settlement with you.
- The employer or insurance carrier can deny your benefits, forcing you to file an appeal.
The workers’ comp timeline is rarely this straightforward, however.
It Can Take Time to Negotiate a Settlement Agreement
The insurance company may decide that it is in their best interests to negotiate a lump-sum settlement for your workers’ compensation claim. This is a one-time payment that covers all of the insurance company’s future obligations to you, whether they are lost wages or medical expenses related to your injuries.
It may take some time to negotiate a settlement agreement like this with the insurance company.
They may have a different view of the extent of your disability or what your future medical expenses are. You may need to negotiate for more money when the insurance company’s settlement offer is insufficient.
An experienced attorney can determine the specific value of your claim and negotiate on your behalf with the insurance company. You must get enough money in your workers’ compensation claim settlement because you sign a release agreement in exchange for the lump-sum payment.
So, you’ll have to be patient as negotiations progress.
Litigation Can Add More Time to Your Case
If the workers’ comp insurance company will not pay your benefits, you might be forced into the litigation phase.
When this happens, you lose control of the timetable. Much depends on the difficulty of the litigation, and when your case can be heard. You have three years from the date of a denial to appeal the case. The reality is that you should act far before that because you may not be able to receive anything unless you win your case or negotiate a settlement.
If your claim is denied, your attorney will begin to prepare your appeal as soon as you hire them for your case. It may take your lawyer some time to compile the file that you’d use for your appeal. You may need to add certain information that was missing from your initial claim to give yourself a better chance of succeeding in an appeal.
Nonetheless, your attorney understands what is at stake for you, so they will work as quickly as possible, while also being as thorough as they can.
If your workers’ compensation case is litigated, it could take up to a year to settle your claim.
Admittedly, this is not an ideal scenario, but you may need to go through a legal process before your case is in a position to settle.
It could take months for your case to be heard by an administrative law judge at the Workers’ Compensation. Then, you may need to negotiate after that to reach a settlement agreement, even if you win at trial. Your case could go on for even longer if you need to appeal your case to a higher level of review.
You Should Notify Your Employer as Soon as Possible After Your Injury
There is part of the timeline that you can control in a workers’ compensation case. You have up to 120 days to notify your employer of the injury.
However, there should be no reason why you should wait that long.
The start of your case timeline depends on when you report the injury. Ideally, you should notify your employer almost immediately after you have been injured or realized that you are suffering from symptoms of a work-related illness or injury. The sooner you give notice, the quicker you may be on track to receive a workers’ compensation benefits check.
Contact a Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
If you need to negotiate a workers’ compensation settlement or your claim has been denied, you should seek help from an experienced attorney today. The workers’ comp attorneys at Gibbons & Crichton, Personal Injury & Accident Lawyers fight for the rights of injured workers when the insurance company tries to make life more difficult.
We can help you get what you deserve when you have been injured on the job. To schedule a free consultation with an attorney in Philadelphia, you can send us a message online or call us today at 215-274-0173.