By GNGF Design/Development on November 9th, 2023 in
If you recently suffered an occupational injury in Illinois, you’re likely wondering how long it will take for your workers’ compensation claim to settle. The duration of any given case varies based on numerous factors, ranging from the severity of the injury to your employer’s willingness to cooperate. Here’s what you need to know.
Timeline of a Typical Workers’ Comp Case
Understanding the typical timeline for a workers’ compensation case is the best way to manage expectations and develop a practical legal strategy.
When you suffer a workplace injury in Illinois, the workers’ comp claims process starts immediately. Illinois law requires injured workers to notify employers within 45 days of injury accidents. Following this, you must file a formal claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission within three years of the injury date. Once you file your claim, your employer’s insurance company will investigate and approve or deny the claim.
If the insurance company approves, you’ll start receiving benefits relatively quickly. But if the insurer or your employer disputes the claim validity, your case might go through arbitration, adding several months to the timeline.
Even if both parties agree on a settlement, finalizing the details and receiving the funds can take time. Simpler cases might resolve within six months of the end of treatment. The process could last a year or more in more complicated cases that go to trial.
Factors That Can Affect How Long Your Case Takes
No two workers’ comp cases are exactly alike, and a variety of factors could affect how long it takes to
settle your claim, including:
- Medical Treatment – Cases will not usually settle or go to arbitration while an employee is still receiving medical treatment unless it is some emergency hearing involving a request for additional workers’ compensation benefits. The reason for this is simple: there is no way to calculate your medical bills or long-term needs for care if you are still receiving medical treatment. At a minimum, most lawyers wait until a client has reached “maximum medical improvement” to settle or arbitrate a case, except for when emergency hearings are required. This protects the client from being hit with unexpected future medical bills and the like.
- Complexity: More complicated cases, like those involving severe injuries or occupational diseases, often require physician depositions, subpoena practice, and ongoing medical documentation, delaying claim settlements.
- Dispute Level: If the worker, the employer, or the insurance company disputes the claim, time-consuming arbitration hearings or other legal proceedings might be necessary.
- Insurance Investigations: Workers’ compensation providers will conduct their investigations into the work injury, which sometimes delays proceedings while independent medical examinations are performed and independent records reviews are completed.
- Employer Cooperation: An uncooperative employer can slow down or even impede the claims process by delaying reports or failing to provide necessary documentation.
- Legal Representation: The decision to hire a qualified attorney can significantly impact the duration of a workers’ comp claim, as experienced lawyers often expedite the process.
How a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can Minimize Delays and Maximize Your Settlement
The idea of a swift settlement is appealing, but remember that speed should never come at the expense of thoroughness. You should not settle a case if you still receive (or need additional) medical treatment. Rushing a workers’ compensation claim could lead to overlooked details and potentially a lack of coverage of your future medical care. A seasoned workers’ compensation lawyer understands this delicate balance. They have the knowledge and experience to handle your claim efficiently without compromising the meticulous attention it deserves.
An Illinois workers’ comp lawyer from the Noll Law Office can minimize delays in several ways. They ensure all necessary documents, including medical reports and evidence of your injuries, are submitted promptly and accurately. They also work hard to secure the full benefits you are owed as soon as possible, preventing unnecessary hold-ups by anticipating and addressing issues as they arise.
Ready for a personalized assessment of your Illinois workers’ compensation case? Contact the Noll Law Office today for your free consultation at (217) 414-8889.