If you were injured on the job and are entitled to a workers’ compensation settlement, you may be wondering, how long does it take to get a workers’ compensation settlement check? Many factors affect the time between your work injury and getting a workers’ compensation settlement. Some cases can take several weeks; others may take a couple of years.
What Is a Workers’ Comp Settlement?
Workers’ compensation claims protect an employee and an employer. They allow an injured employee to seek compensation without the need to prove the employer’s negligence. This protects the employer from burdensome lawsuits and huge payouts that can bankrupt a company. Instead, workers’ compensation insurance carried by the employer covers lost wages, medical expenses, and additional expenses associated with a work-related injury.
Determining the amount of compensation begins by presenting a claim to the insurance carrier. The carrier then offers a reimbursement amount. Suppose the employee does not believe the reimbursement amount is sufficient to cover the costs of their injuries. In that case, a resolution might require negotiations, a settlement agreement, and a hearing with a judge. Ultimately, the settlement is the agreed-upon reimbursement amount in either a lump-sum payment or a structured settlement.
In lump-sum settlements, the employee gets a one-time payment from the insurance company or the employer after signing the settlement agreement. In a structured settlement, the injured employee receives partial payout checks, such as medical payments and wage losses, either weekly or monthly or as deferred payments. Usually, the employees prefer this option as it helps maintain the cash flow for a fixed period.
Workers’ Comp Settlement Process
The first step in beginning the workers’ compensation settlement process is to seek medical treatment. During treatment, carefully follow your medical team’s instructions and advice. Also, be sure to let your employer know about your work-related injuries as soon as possible.
The next step is to file a workers’ compensation claim with the insurance company. Business owners must take care of the medical expenses, monitor employees’ recovery, and enquire about the process of claiming medical benefits with the insurance company. The employer and insurance company will investigate the circumstances surrounding your injury. It is not uncommon for an employer or insurance company to get statements from witnesses or take photos of the location of the injury. Your employer will need documentation of all your injury-related expenses. If you, your employer, and the insurance company cannot agree on the reimbursement amount, you may need to pursue a lawsuit.
If a worker’s comp lawsuit goes to trial, the judge will evaluate various aspects of the case to determine its validity. Ultimately, the judge will propose a fair settlement amount.
What Factors Affect the Average Time to Settle a Workers’ Comp Case?
How long does a workers’ comp case take to settle in New Jersey? The time it takes to settle depends on several different factors. Some of those factors include:
- The type of injury,
- How long it takes you to recover,
- Whether you can recover completely or not,
- Whether you involve a lawyer in the process,
- Your willingness to negotiate,
- Whether you have to take the case to a hearing, and
- Whether you need to file an appeal.
Because the insurance company is responsible for the reimbursement amount in most cases, their actions greatly impact how the case progresses. One of the main factors influencing the length of time involved in settling a case is the insurance company’s investigation timeline. Because employer insurance companies review hundreds and even thousands of claims at a time, there is rarely a quick turnaround.
Common Delays for Workers’ Compensation Cases
With so many parties involved—you, your employer, your medical team, the insurance company, and likely your lawyer—your settlement could be delayed for various reasons. Common causes for delays include:
- Either your employer or the insurance company is disputing your claim,
- Your impairment rating (the rating that signifies the seriousness of your injuries) is in question, which often translates to the need for a second medical opinion; and
- There is a dispute regarding the time it will take for you to reach maximum medical improvement.
The impairment rating impacts how much you are entitled to receive in workers’ compensation benefits, so it is the main focus for insurance companies. If the insurance company disputes the permanent impairment rating, it will often add months to a case.
How Long Does a Workers’ Comp Case Take to Settle in New Jersey?
If you can get the case settled without filing a lawsuit, it can significantly speed up the process. However, remember that longer cases will often lead to higher workers’ comp settlements or awards. While it’s not always the case, sometimes having a longer workers’ compensation case isn’t so bad in the long run.
Call the Experienced Workers’ Comp Attorneys at Petro Cohen
Petro Cohen, P.C. has assisted injured workers in South Jersey for decades. The firm’s Workers’ Compensation Department has more than 100 years of combined experience, among Department Head and Senior Partner Frank Petro, Partners Suzanne Holz Meola, and Terri Hiles, and attorneys Daniel Rosenthal and Sam Scimeca. Working together with you, they will ensure you receive the medical treatment you need and the compensation you deserve. Petro Cohen, P.C. has offices to serve you in Northfield, Cape May Court House, Cherry Hill, and Hamilton, NJ. To determine if you may have a potential workers’ comp and/or personal injury case, schedule your free and confidential consultation with a Petro Cohen, P.C. attorney by calling 888-675-7607. You can contact us through our online form or via 24/7 live chat at PetroCohen.com.