After you file a workers’ comp claim, it can feel like the process is moving at a snail’s pace. Workers’ comp cases take time and require patience, and it’s not uncommon for several months or even years to go by before reaching a resolution. In fact, in a recent survey of injured workers, we found that 25% of cases took 24 months or longer to resolve. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to move your case along more quickly.
Consult With a Lawyer
In many cases, having a lawyer on your side can give your case the push it needs. An experienced workers’ comp attorney will know the best way to resolve your case as quickly as possible and can help you avoid mistakes that lead to unnecessary delay. Your employer’s insurance company may also be more willing to negotiate, knowing that you have a lawyer handling your case. For help finding a lawyer, see Where to Find a Workers' Compensation Lawyer.
To resolve your workers’ comp case, you'll probably need to attend required medical examinations, depositions, mediations, and other events. Often, lawyers and insurance companies schedule these events based on their own schedules. This can be very frustrating if the dates and times aren’t convenient for you. However, rescheduling appointments can lead to substantial delay. For example, if you try to reschedule a medical exam at the last minute, it could be another month until that doctor has another opening to see you. Unless you have an emergency or a very important event, you may want to rearrange your schedule so that you can attend appointments at the time they are initially set.
Ask About Settlement Offers
Cases that settle are resolved much more quickly and with fewer headaches than cases that proceed to a hearing or a trial. If you have a lawyer, your lawyer should be keeping you informed of settlement offers as they come in. However, lawyers are often very busy, so you’re more likely to be on top of things if you check in with your lawyer regularly. Even if you’re not willing to accept the first offer made by the insurance company, you can make a counteroffer and get the ball rolling.
If the insurance company has not made a settlement offer, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it isn’t interested in negotiating. For example, sometimes an insurance company will ignore a case until it has an upcoming deadline or scheduled event. Starting settlement discussions can get the insurance company to take a look at your case sooner.
Be Willing to Compromise
Holding out for an unreasonable settlement or award can put your workers’ comp case in a holding pattern. If you have a lawyer, ask how much your case is worth and what you can realistically expect to receive. If you don’t have a lawyer, you might want to consult with one. An experienced lawyer can point out the strengths and weaknesses of your case, tell you how much similar cases have settled for in the past, and advise you on what a good settlement offer is.
Once you have a realistic idea of how much your case is worth, you can make a better decision as to how much you are willing to compromise. Sometimes getting less money now can be better than getting a little more money several months or years down the road.
Keep Lines of Communication Open
If you have a lawyer, make sure to check in frequently. If your lawyer asks you for information or documents, deliver them as soon as possible. If you haven’t heard from your lawyer in a while, call for an update and ask what can be done to move your case along. If you’re not satisfied with the answers your lawyer gives you, you might want to consider finding a new lawyer who can give your case the attention it deserves. (To find out more, see Can I Fire My Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?)