Many clients ask how long it will take for their worker's compensation claim to be completed, when they will get their money, and when they will be done with the process. Unfortunately there is never a good answer to this question, often leaving clients frustrated or unprepared for what is involved in the process. Even when we explain the unpredicability of how long the process will take, some clients still believe it will be over in a few months and become frustrated again when that does not happen.
Several factors contribute to the length of the worker's compensation claim, with the main contributing factor being the course of the client's medical treatment. If a client comes to us at the beginning of treatment, or somewhere in the middle and there is a long road of treatment ahead, there is nothing we can do as attorneys to speed up the process and we cannot move toward settlement until you are done treating, or have reached what is called "maximum medical improvement." Until the client has reached this point, as determined by the worker's compensation authorized treating physicians, there is no way to determine the extent of the client's disability in order to evaluate the claim for a settlement demand amount.
Other factors that go into determining the length of the claim process includes the responsiveness of the defense attorney and/or insurance adjuster. We are often met with resistance and delays that we cannot control. Even once we have set a hearing date (the end result in a worker's compensation claim), it is possible that the hearing date will be continued if there are unforeseen factors that come up or if the client needs additional treatment before reaching maximum medical improvement. Once a hearing date is set, certain deadlines are put in place that do help move the case along and possibly to settlement before the hearing date, but we often continue negotiations right up to the hearing date and there is no way to predict when or if the case will settle before hearing.
While there are no concrete answers we can give to clients, it is important for them to understand this before agreeing to move forward with filing a worker's compensation claim. The process can be long and frustrating, but our goal is to ultimately obtain the best settlement possible for our clients, no matter how long that may take.