When you are injured at work and file a workers’ compensation claim, the settlement must be approved before it becomes official. That means there is a process involved before you can begin receiving your benefits. Many people wonder exactly how long it can take to negotiate a workers’ compensation settlement—which is what we’ll discuss here.
It’s important to note that if you are an employee hurt at work, you probably have a right to workers’ compensation benefits. You also deserve fair compensation that covers all your damages as you recover. It’s easy for injured workers to feel taken advantage of or not given all the facts during the claims process, so having a lawyer can help protect your rights.
How Long Does it Take to Reach a Settlement for Workers’ Comp?
The entire settlement process—from filing your claim to having the money in your hands—can take around 12-18 months depending on the details of your case and whether or not you have legal representation.
If you do not have a lawyer, do not have a permanent disability, and do not end up negotiating for your settlement, the timeline is typically around 12-14 months. With a lawyer, the settlement process typically takes a little longer—around 17-18 months. If you and your lawyer negotiate a workers’ compensation settlement, it can take around 20% longer to settle—but with a more favorable outcome.
Negotiation means you are seeking more money than the initial offer—which is rarely enough to compensate you for your injuries and damages.
How Does Negotiating a Workers’ Compensation Settlement Work?
When you bring a workers compensation case after a work injury, the insurance company might offer payment for medical bills and disability. You can choose to accept the offer, or you can seek a settlement to cover more of your damages.
To reach a fair settlement, you will need to negotiate with the insurance company. It’s best to have a workers compensation lawyer to help with this, as it’s very difficult to (successfully) go up against workers comp insurance companies alone. You will need to work with an attorney who specializes in workers comp claims and understands what goes into them.
Steps in a Workers’ Compensation Settlement
Here is how it workers:
- Your lawyer drafts a demand letter (approved by you) to send to the insurance company. This letter includes the settlement amount you will require to settle the case.
- When the insurance company receives the letter, they will make a counteroffer, and negotiations will begin.
- You and your lawyer will negotiate back and forth with the insurance company. If negotiation is successful, you will soon receive your payment.
Before your settlement can become final, it must be sent to and approved by the State Board of Workers Compensation (SBWC). The settlement will be reviewed during a workers’ compensation hearing where a hearing officer or judge will look over the settlement, make sure you understand it and ask if you agree with the amount. A settlement may be rejected if the officer or judge believes you aren’t being awarded a large enough settlement.
You will need to make sure you are absolutely sure of the settlement amount, as you normally can’t make changes once the SBWC has approved it. This is why it’s so crucial that you work with an experienced workers compensation lawyer.
What Factors Affect How Long it Takes to Negotiate and Settle a Workers’ Comp Claim?
When calculating how much you think your workers’ compensation settlement should be, you and your lawyer will need to consider factors like:
- All medical costs, including treatment expenses, doctor visits, hospital stays, and ambulance rides
- Any future treatment costs, including physical therapy, surgeries, and prescription medication costs
- Lost wages and changes to future wages
- Whether or not you are facing a disability from your injuries
- Local workers comp laws
Unlike other injury claims, workers compensation claims are not related to pain and suffering damages.
The response time of the insurance company and your employer can also affect the full amount of time it takes to negotiate and settlement a workers’ compensation claim. Insurance companies will sometimes delay sending you an offer or answering your inquiries. They may hope this encourages you to accept a smaller claim and settle the case sooner.
It can also take longer to negotiate if you are still receiving treatment for your injuries. Your lawyer will want to ensure any future medical costs are accounted for, so they might wait until a doctor can determine your maximum medical improvement before deciding on a fair settlement.
Talk to a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Free Today
John Foy & Associates has been helping injured workers win the settlement they deserve for over 20 years. We will support you through the entire process and make sure your rights are upheld. To schedule a FREE consultation with one of our experienced and compassionate workers comp lawyers, call us at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online to get started.