If you were injured on the job, you are probably wondering what your next step should be. You might be asking yourself questions such as, am I eligible for workers’ compensation? Should I speak with an attorney, or deal directly with the insurance company? How much money will I receive? How long will it take to receive my workers’ comp settlement, and can I go back to work in the meantime?
Navigating the workers compensation settlement process can be complicated and stressful, especially while you are trying to recover from an injury at the same time. Having a workers comp attorney to help you will make the process easier because they can communicate with the insurance company on your behalf and make sure you receive maximum compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, and lost wages.
What Is Workers Compensation?
Workers compensation is a type of insurance that provides benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages for people who have been injured at their place of work while on the job. Almost all employers in the United States are required to provide some form of workers comp insurance coverage for employees. In exchange for this coverage, an injured employee is not allowed to sue his or her employer for negligence.
Generally, most employees are eligible to receive workers comp benefits regardless of who was responsible for the injury. Independent contractors, freelancers, and volunteers typically are not entitled to workers compensation if they are injured on the job. Workers comp laws and requirements vary based on state and, in some cases, industry.
How Much Money Will I Receive?
Every workers comp case is different. The amount of benefits you are entitled to depends on a variety of factors, including the severity of your injuries, the length of time you need to take off from work, and whether you will be able to return to work in any capacity while your injuries heal.
You can use a workers compensation settlement calculator to estimate how much you might receive, but you should definitely work with an attorney to make sure you get the maximum compensation. It is estimated that a total of 62 billion dollars in workers comp benefits was paid out to employees in 2017.
How Long Does a Workers Comp Settlement Take?
Just like there is no set dollar amount that any given employee will receive as part of a workers compensation settlement, there is also no set timeline for a workers comp settlement. Some cases may take several months or even over a year. On average, however, it typically takes four to eight weeks to receive benefits after your case is decided. That is because contracts and agreements need to be written, then you, your attorney, your employer’s attorney, and an arbitrator all need to sign them—a process which often occurs via mail and can take several weeks.
After the paperwork is signed by all parties, the settlement check needs to be endorsed and cleared through the attorney’s office and their trust account, which can take up to two weeks. Any discrepancy in communication between your attorney, your employer’s attorney, and the insurance company can also delay the process even further.
A workers comp attorney will make sure you file and settle your case according to your state’s particular deadlines. You may be able to resume working in the meantime while you wait to receive your workers compensation benefits. Depending on the severity of your injuries, your employer might allow you to return to a less demanding position temporarily until you are fully recovered and able to safely complete the full scope of your duties.