How Long Will It Take To Resolve My Workers’ Compensation Claim?
How much does workers’ compensation pay? How long will it take to receive payment?
These are among the most common questions we hear from injured workers — and for good reason. An employee who is unable to work is not collecting a paycheck, yet bills must still be paid. The answer depends on a number of factors.
Understanding The Workers’ Comp Claim Process
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act provides immediate temporary total disability (TTD) payments that cover 100 percent of medical care and two-thirds of an employee’s average weekly wage.
When an injured worker asks how long it will take to resolve a workers’ compensation case, he or she is usually referring to settlement of a lump-sum payment that is known as permanent partial disability (PPD) if the injured party is able to return to work or permanent total disability (PTD) if the injured party is unable to return to work as a result of the injury.
Here are some factors that impact how long it takes to resolve a workers’ compensation claim:
The severity of the injury — In order to determine what amount of workers’ compensation benefits you will receive, you must reach what is known as a state of permanency. That means a doctor has determined you have recovered as much as possible. You may receive additional treatment, but you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). Severe injuries take longer to reach MMI. Some require multiple surgeries. Injuries such as a concussion or traumatic brain injury are difficult to assess and require a lengthy review.
Disputes — Employers want to minimize the number of workers’ compensation claims that are approved in order to keep their insurance costs low. For that reason, your employer may claim your injury did not occur at work or is not work-related. Employers also may claim an employee is able to return to work or is not as seriously injured as he or she claims. Any disputes involved in a claim will delay resolution. If your employer is disputing anything about your work injury, it is important to enlist the services of a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney.
How early you enlist legal representation — Often, injured parties wait several months to see how their claim is handled, enlisting legal counsel only after a dispute arises. Clients who come to us several months after a work injury occurs may no longer have access to important evidence or may have received poor medical treatment that will negatively affect their case. By working with our law firm early in the process, we will make sure you receive proper medical care and that all necessary records are kept. Working backwards to recover records or evidence can prolong the process.
The size of the settlement — The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act provides a schedule of permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits for certain body parts. This is measured in the total number of weeks you may be paid. An injured worker who loses a body part due to amputation or who suffers permanent and complete loss of use of a body part is allowed a maximum number of weeks of PPD benefits. A separate schedule applies to a worker who suffers partial loss of a body part or partial loss of use of a body part. For example, loss of a leg or foot is worth significantly more than the loss of a finger or thumb. Generally, the larger the settlement, the longer it takes to resolve a claim.
Streamline Your Workers’ Comp Claim
There are steps that an injured worker can take to help streamline the workers’ compensation process. These include:
Coordinate communication — A typical workers’ compensation case requires completion and processing of multiple forms, medical records and other written communication. Medical professionals, your employer, insurance companies and others must share important information regarding your injury. Your lawyer will help make sure the proper documents reach the right people, but it is also incumbent on an injured worker to keep requests for forms and information flowing in a timely fashion.
Keep appointments and follow doctors’ orders — In addition to seeing your own doctor, you may be asked to see a doctor that your employer selects. You will also have appointments with your attorney. It is important to keep all appointments and critical to follow your doctor’s orders. Deviating from prescribed treatment may negatively impact your claim.
Be open to compromise — Many workers’ comp cases are resolved through negotiation with the insurance provider. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney will help you maximize the amount you recover while advising you on what is not worth litigating.
Work With Our Knowledgeable Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
If you suffer a work-related injury, you may not be certain whether it is necessary to hire a lawyer to help you navigate the workers’ compensation process. If your injury is not serious, your employer cooperates with your claim and you do not miss much work as a result, there is a good chance you can recover benefits without legal counsel.
If your injury is more serious, preventing you from returning to work for an extended period or permanently limiting what job responsibilities you can accomplish, it is wise to enlist the help of a workers’ compensation lawyer. A lawyer may also help if your employer denies your claim, does not cover your full medical costs or lost wages, or insists you can return to work sooner than you feel able.
Call 847-388-0874 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. We will review the facts of your case and provide a candid assessment of what you might expect. We represent clients in Lake County and throughout greater Chicago from our office in Mundelein.