How long will it take to settle my workers comp case?
After an injury on the job you may begin to think about settling your case and questions may arise as to how soon you can expect settlement money to come. Each workers compensation claim takes on a nature of its own and settlement timeline may vary based on a number of factors. Some workers compensation claims settle vary early on in time, as early as a few months. While it may take a long time for others to settle, perhaps years. To obtain a more accurate estimate of the time when you may expect settlement money it is best to consult an attorney and go over the details of your particular case. Treatment status, filing status, severity of injury, and employment status are just a few factors that can affect how long you may have to wait for a workers comp settlement.
For a no cost consultation with Maryland Injury Attorney Andrew M. Rodabaugh call +1 (410) 937-1659 , Email , or fill out the form at the bottom of this page.
Here are some factors that may determine how long it will take to settle your workers compensation case:
- Does the defense want to settle the case? For a settlement to take place both parties must want to close the case out for an agreeable amount of money. Settlement does not involve forcing the defense to pay, but requires an interest in settlement on their part and a certain level of acquiescence on their part. If the workers compensation insurer is not interested in settling than the injured worker must resort to other ways of forcing money from their hand like going to a hearing on permanency.
- Is the injured worker still obtaining medical treatment? If the claimant is still actively treating than it may not be a great idea to seek out a settlement because the parties do not know how much treatment will be required in the future, nor do the parties know how much time from work the injured worker may miss. A quick settlement of $5,000 to $10,000 may seem enticing but if the injured worker requires surgery in the future and misses 6 months from work he or she will quickly expend all the settlement money. If the case was not settled than the injured worker would be able to request and likely obtain lost wage payments from the workers compensation insurer. Not only will patience lead to more lost wage payments should the injured worker require intrusive surgery, but the settlement amount will likely increase as a result of the surgery.
- Has the possibility of future treatment been addressed? In order to settle many workers compensation claims the possibility of future treatment must be addressed by a qualified physician. Without a “future treatment” opinion the length of time it takes to settle a workers compensation claim in Maryland could be indefinite. Maryland law and the workers compensation commission requires, in most cases, the opinion of a doctor indicated that there is no expectation of future treatment, or what treatment is expected in the future. In some cases a future treatment opinion is not necessarily needed to obtain a settlement. These cases can expect a relatively quick settlement than compared to those requiring a no future treatment letter.
- Is the case contested or being challenged by the workers comp insurer at the beginning? A workers compensation insurer can challenge a case on various grounds such as treatment, lost wages, permanency, or other benefits, however they also have the opportunity to challenge a case when it is first filed with the Workers Compensation Commission. If the case is challenged at the beginning it is said to be in a contested posture which means the employer/insurer is questioning whether the incident happened, how it happened, if injury resulted, or if the injury sustained was truly a result of the occurrence at work. When a Maryland workers compensation case is in a contested posture there is a possibility that it can be settled within a few months from the date of accident however there are a number of variables that must fall inline for settlement to occur so quickly.
- Has there been an IME (independent medical evaluation) performed? Quite often the treating physician is not the only doctor providing a medical opinion about future treatment and there is often an IME opinion that differs from that of the treating physician. If an IME has taken place or one is scheduled than the it may not be long for a workers compensation settlement to take place. Many IME doctors are experienced expert witnesses that will predictably provide an opinion to the workers comp insurer that there is no need for future treatment. With that opinion looming the injured worker must decide whether they want to look into settlement negotiations or if they want to go to a hearing and try to obtain more work comp benefits.
- What is the nature of the injury? Severe injury or is it a minor strain or sprain. In many instances it is not wise for the injured worker to consider settlement. In the event there is a serious injury which will undoubtedly require future treatment than settlement should be considered only if the workers comp insurer is willing to pay for future medical treatment. When including future medical expenses it may take a year or longer to settle the workers comp claim. Settling a serious injury claim without considering future medical expenses and the potential for future lost wages could prove to be a devastating mistake for the injured worker. When the injuries are of a not so severe nature than settlement can be discussed early on in the case as the future treatment concerns are not so prevalent. With that being said even in the minor injury cases it is prudent to wait until the extent of the injury is fully understood. How long it takes to settle a workers comp case largely depends on the severity of the injury.
- How much money is being offered to settle the claim? The single most important factor in any settlement, not alone a workers comp settlement is the amount of money that is being offered. In essence, the length of time it takes to settle a claim is directly affected by the length of time it takes for the parties to come up with money figures that each find to be reasonable. There are some cases that are never fully resolved because either party has an unreasonable number in mind, be it too low or too high.
- Is the injured worker still employed by the same employer? Most workers comp insurers will not even discuss settlement if the injured worker is still employed by the same employer. In their eyes the theory is that the injured worker will simply get re injured and will therefore be privy to the same benefits to which they were entitled to under the first injury. It is important to keep in mind when a case is fully settled the workers comp insurer is paying to close out the medical portion of the case. If the injured worker were to re-injure the same body part on the job then the workers comp insurer would end up paying for medical benefits. In a good majority of cases the case will settle only after the employee has left by resignation or termination. How long it takes to settle workers compensation cases is unpredictable when the employee is worker for the same employer they were working for at the time of injury. There are some workers compensation insurers that are willing to settle when the employee still works for the employer how they are the exception to the general rule.
- Where is the case procedurally? As previously discussed the quickest settlements in workers compensation cases ordinarily occur when the case is in a contested posture. Cases may also once an independent medical evaluation is performed and the doctor has opined that there is not need for future medical treatment. Most often settlements occur only after the injured worker has been discharged from care and evaluated by their attorneys IME doctor. The key factor when determining how long it will take to settle a workers compensation claim in Maryland is knowing when the injured worker is discharged from care. The injured workers attorney can then advise on how long it will take to get an IME scheduled but this likely can occur within a couple months from the date of medical discharge.