How Long Does It Take to Settle a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

settle a claim

If you have suffered an injury at work, you likely want to know—how long does it take to settle a workers' compensation claim? Each case is unique, and the length of a claim often depends on how severe your injury is. A workers' comp lawyer can explain the claim process to you and give you an estimate of how long your claim should take to settle.

How Long Does it Take to Settle a Workers' Compensation Claim?

On top of daily living expenses, those with injuries have medical bills, lost wages, and oftentimes have years of expensive medical treatments and therapies ahead of them. Unfortunately, there just isn't a clear-cut answer.  It could take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years.

So, how long will workers' compensation take to settle a claim? The amount of medical treatment needed is the primary determinant of the settlement timeline. A patient must receive the maximum benefit of treatment and a long-term diagnosis before settlement takes place. In the most traumatic cases, this means waiting longer, but it's necessary to recover for current and future medical expenses.

Preparing the documentation to send to an insurance company can draw the process out. The extent of the injury, preexisting conditions, and the amount of work missed all require a great deal of documentation. Something seemingly simple, like getting a response for medical records, can sometimes take repeated letters and phone calls. The insurance company will play a part in how long a case takes to settle. Some are more reasonable than others, but they will often refuse to pay a fair settlement. At that point, a suit may be filed.

Steps in a Workers' Compensation Settlement

No matter the severity of your injuries, all workers' compensation claims follow the same steps. First, you must inform your employer of your injuries. Your employer then must inform their insurance company, which will start its investigation.

Most workers' compensation claims reach a settlement before they go through a hearing process. A workers' compensation lawyer can help you through the settlement negotiations. If you ask yourself, “how long will workers' compensation take to settle a claim,” know that working with a workers' compensation lawyer will likely shorten your settlement process and reduce the stress associated with the process.

The steps in a workers' compensation settlement include:

  • Your lawyer drafts a demand letter (approved by you) to send to the insurance company. This letter includes the settlement amount you will require to settle the case.
  • When the insurance company receives the letter, they will make a counteroffer, and negotiations will begin.
  • You and your lawyer will negotiate back and forth with the insurance company. If negotiation is successful, you will soon receive your payment.

How Does Negotiating a Workers’ Compensation Settlement Work?

Negotiating a fair settlement with a workers' compensation insurance company can be tricky. The insurance company lawyers negotiate settlements in their favor on a regular basis. A workers' compensation lawyer can help you match the experience and tenacity of the other side's lawyers to settle a workers' compensation claim. The following are the steps to a settlement negotiation:

  • Have your workers’ compensation lawyer send a demand letter to the insurance company with the amount that you seek for settlement, including access to relevant documentation if necessary.
  • Receive a counteroffer. The insurance company may make a counteroffer or accept the settlement amount.
  • Continue reviewing the counteroffer until you reach an acceptable amount for both parties.
  • Spend a few days or weeks in the negotiating process until the process is complete.
  • Submit the agreed-upon settlement terms to the state’s governing authority for workers’ compensation settlements for final approval.

Whatever the specific details of your claim, a lawyer can help you answer the question—how long does it take to settle a workers' compensation claim? A workers' compensation lawyer can also help make the entire process smoother, and ensure you reach a settlement that meets your needs.

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Photo of Niko Pothitakis
For the past 15 years Mr. Pothitakis has focused his practice on Workers Compensation and Personal Injury Cases. The firm has two locations, one being in Burlington, Iowa and the other in Keokuk, Iowa. Mr. Pothitakis works with many area unions and employee organizations to provide advice, assistance, and guidance as it relates to employment issues. Mr. Pothitakis provides free consultations to those with legal questions in the firm's areas of practice. In this initial meeting or conference potential clients are provided advice on their need for assistance and how they need to proceed.