Stages of a Workers' Compensation Case
Every work injury is different, but here are some common stages that you can expect your case to go through.
- Injury. This can be a one-time trauma, such as falling off a ladder, or it can be an injury that happens over time.
- Notice. After an injury, you have to notify your employer before a certain deadline. Put your notice in writing to make sure there’s no dispute about when you told them about it.
- Medical treatment. If your injury happens suddenly, you should get medical treatment as soon as possible. If your injury occurred over time, get treatment as soon as you realize you are injured. Be aware that your employer may have say in which doctor you choose.
- Legal advice. You are not required to hire an attorney in order to file a claim for workers’ compensation, but it’s usually worth it, especially if your injury is serious or permanent.
- Payment for time off work. If you are unable to perform your job duties and your employer can’t reassign you, then your injury might force you to miss work. You should get paid for a portion of your lost income during this time.
- Independent medical examination. Your employer or the insurance company may send you to an independent doctor for their opinion on your injury. This often happens if there is a dispute.
- Disputes. Disputes can be resolved by a hearing or trial. Your attorney may request recommend these options if you aren’t getting paid what you’re owed or if your employer is not fulfilling their obligation when it comes to your medical treatment.
- End of treatment. When your doctor declares that you are as good as you’re going to get, your case moves into another phase.
- Negotiation. If you have a permanent injury, your attorney will review your entire case and negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. The case may end up in arbitration or trial.
- Appeal. After a case is decided, either side can appeal if they’re not happy with the result although this usually does not happen.
Again, this is just an overview. Every case is different and may take some twists and turns. If you have questions, talk to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. If you need help finding one, we can help. If you’d like a referral, give us a call at 1 (800) 807-9530 or fill out our online form.