What is the Timeline for a Workers’ Comp Settlement?

Worker compensation timeline concept

If you were hurt on the job, you might incur substantial medical bills in connection with your treatment — and have to take time off from work as you recover from your injuries. If you applied for Workers’ Compensation, you may be wondering what the workers’ comp timeline looks like and when you can expect to enter into a settlement. The length of time a Workers’ Compensation case can take to resolve will depend upon a number of factors, including the complexity of the case.

Resolving an L&I Claim with a Structured Settlement

One way a claim can be resolved with Washington Labor & Industries (L&I) is with a structured settlement. This can occur when you and L&I (or sometimes an employer) agree to resolve your claim for a monetary amount that you would have received as a series of fixed cash payments. Typically, when a claim is settled, it closes the claim as to all future benefits, with the exception of medical benefits — you might still be entitled to receive future medical treatment for the condition specified on your claim.

If all parties consent to the settlement, an agreement will be drafted by L&I and circulated for signatures. Then, it will be submitted to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (BIIA) for approval. Once it has been approved by BIIA, it is subject to a 30-day revocation period, during which time any party may revoke their consent for any reason. Benefits will continue to be paid during the revocation period. After this period ends, the structured settlement agreement will become final, and payments will commence within 14 days.

Common Reasons for Delays in Reaching a Settlement in a Workers’ Compensation Case

If your Workers’ Compensation claim is approved, L&I will cover medical bills that are directly related to your work-related injury until your doctor has determined you have reached maximum medical improvement. In addition, your first wage replacement check will typically be mailed within 14 days from the date L&I received notice from your doctor that you are unable to work (if you are eligible for time-loss benefits and no additional information is needed).

Reaching a final settlement in your Workers’ Compensation case can take anywhere from several weeks to a few years. While some claims go through the system quickly, others may require more patience to reach a favorable settlement. Notably, there can be multiple reasons a claim filed with Washington L&I might be delayed.

Common reasons for delays that can affect the Workers’ Comp timeline can include the following:

  • Filing a claim late — Workers’ Compensation claims must be filed within one year from the date of a work-related injury or within two years of being diagnosed with an occupational illness. However, waiting too long to file an L&I claim can cause issues in your case and raise red flags with the claims administrators.
  • Fraud prevention measures — L&I goes through every claim meticulously to help ensure fraudulent claims do not receive compensation. More complicated claims can sometimes take longer to go through the strict screening process.
  • Delays in medical reporting — A delay could arise in connection with physician reporting. For instance, they may be taking their time to report to L&I or wait until your condition has reached maximum medical improvement.
  • Employer disputes — If your employer disputes your eligibility for L&I benefits, your claim could take longer to settle.
  • Non-cooperation — If L&I believes you are not cooperating with the claims process by engaging in harmful actions that could jeopardize your recovery or you do not attend your medical examinations, your claim could be delayed or ultimately denied.
  • Appeals and protests — Either party that disagrees with the outcome of an L&I decision can protest it with L&I or appeal to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals. This can make the settlement process take longer.

Workers’ Compensation can be a complex process that requires a significant amount of paperwork and evidence to prove your injury. There are also important deadlines that must be met. The best way to avoid any unnecessary delays in your claim is by working with an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney who can help you navigate the process and protect your legal rights every step of the way.

How is the Timeline for a Workers’ Compensation Case Different from a Personal Injury Case?

It’s crucial to note that the administrative process for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim is very different from pursuing a personal injury claim in court. Although a worker cannot sue their employer due to Washington’s Workers’ Compensation laws, they may still be able to hold a negligent third-party accountable for their injuries in some cases by commencing a lawsuit. In some cases, a work accident victim may be able to pursue both avenues to obtain compensation for their injuries.

It’s essential to understand that the Workers’ Comp timeline is very different from the deadlines associated with filing a lawsuit. The statute of limitations to file a personal injury action in Washington is three years. However, once a case is commenced, it can take up to several years to conclude. When a case goes through litigation, the amount of time it can take to resolve will depend upon how quickly the case moves through the court system, the scope of the discovery process, and the parties’ willingness to settle.

Questions About the Timeline for Your Workers’ Comp Claim? Contact an Experienced Washington Workers’ Compensation Attorney

The Workers’ Comp timeline can vary considerably from case to case. It is vital to have a skilled attorney by your side who can guide you through the process to help ensure you reach a timely settlement in your case. The Bellingham Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Robinson & Kole are committed to providing skillful counsel and reliable representation to injured workers throughout Washington State. We welcome you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 800.640.5616 or by using our online contact form. Se habla Español.