Q Why is it taking so long to settle my workers’ comp claim?
It can be incredibly disheartening to be a good employee who goes the extra mile for your employer, but find that your employer does not treat you well if are injured on the job and must file a workers’ compensation claim. Even when your claim is 100 percent legitimate, the insurance company for your employer could deny your claim. If this has happened to you, you may become extremely frustrated when you discover that it is taking longer than you imagined to settle your claim.
Why Your Workers’ Compensation Claim Is Not Settling Quickly
You need your workers’ compensation benefits as soon as possible after a workplace injury so that you receive your lost wages and get your medical bills paid. However, when the insurance company denies your claim, it can take even an experienced workers’ compensation attorney a long time to resolve your claim. A mistake that you do not want to make is to accept a lower amount in settlement than you realistically deserve just to get the money quicker. Here are some common reasons that your case could be taking so long to resolve:
- Disputes. While you are entitled to workers’ comp benefits regardless of who was at fault in causing your accident in New Jersey, you could still have serious disputes in your case. Whether your injury was caused in the course of your job, how serious your injuries were, and other issues could cause your case to take longer to settle. Your attorney may need to obtain additional documents or hire experts in order to convince the insurance adjuster that you are entitled to benefits. This could take time.
- Your medical recovery. If you are still receiving medical treatment for your injuries, you should wait until you reach your maximum medical improvement where you have recovered as much as you can or receive a final prognosis before settling your claim. This will insure that your future medical bills, future wage losses, permanent partial disabilities, and permanent disabilities are included in your settlement. Depending on your injuries and treatments, it could be months or longer before you reach this point in your recovery.
- Collection of evidence. Even if your attorney investigates your claim right away and begins collecting your medical records, it can take him time to collect all the evidence he needs to evaluate your claim and its value and to send a demand package to the insurance company. When your medical treatment is ongoing, he may need to wait until you reach your maximum medical recovery to obtain some documents.
- Employer’s insurance company. The insurance company for your employer will need to conduct an investigation before making a decision on settling your claim. The insurance adjuster could take his time doing this, and you may feel like your claim is not progressing at all during this time period.
- Congested courts. If the court has too many workers’ compensation cases, it could take longer to obtain court hearings in your case. This could make getting a decision from the judge take longer and make the insurance company feel like they have plenty of time to settle your claim—and try to wear you down by making you wait.
What Can You Do to Speed Up the Process of Settling Your Case?
While you cannot control much about the process of settling your claim, you can take some steps that will ultimately result in a better and faster settlement. Some of these steps include:
- See a doctor soon after your work accident, follow his advice regarding your treatment, and go to all of your appointments. This avoids disputes with the insurance company about the seriousness of your injuries and whether you are doing all that you can to get better.
- Provide your attorney with any requested information and documents promptly. When your attorney is requesting this from you, he most likely needs it to make progress in settling your case. Don’t make your case take longer—and his job harder—by not providing him what he needs right away.
- Follow your attorney’s advice. If you have retained an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, he will know what needs to be done in your case—and what you need to do—so that you receive the workers’ comp benefits you deserve in your settlement. Help him achieve this goal by following his advice regarding your claim.
Do you need help with your workers’ comp claim? Call my office to schedule your free consultation to learn about how my years of experience can help you obtain what you are entitled to in settlement of your case.