Workers' Compensation

How long do workers’ compensation claims last?

The overwhelming majority of claims are over within a year. Those are the claims where, fortunately, there is no or little lost time from work and there is no permanent disability.

If your claim is denied the best estimate is that it will take a year to get a decision from the Industrial Commission. It may be quicker, but not a whole lot quicker. An appeal by the insurance company will add at least another six months to that.

You are entitled to lifetime medical benefits and, of course, you are entitled to be paid disability for 500 weeks from the date of your injury. In some very limited cases you may receive disability for life. (For injuries occurring prior to June 2011 lifetime benefits were much more common.)

Most of the claims that we handle involve people who have permanent injuries. Most of these folks return to work, although many do not return to their old line of work due to those injuries. As a practical matter, it is difficult to settle these cases until your medical condition stabilizes – that is, you reach maximum medical improvement. While nothing says you cannot settle prior to that you can be sure that the insurance company will offer you smaller sums of money along with their confident prediction that you will have a 100% recovery and move to a new job which pays even more than your current job. That would be lovely… if it were true. We will want to err on the side of caution and assume that you’re going to have a significant wage loss and incur substantial medical bills in the future. Basically with so much uncertainty in a case it is difficult to settle it.

Realistically you need to wait until after maximum medical improvement to settle. How long that may take depends on your doctors. Once you are at MMI we can talk settlement with the other side. Things can be wrapped up fairly quickly after that.

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