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How Long Does a Workers’ Compensation Claim Take?

If you get injured while at work in Pennsylvania or Ohio, you have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim for financial benefits. Every company in these states is required to carry workers’ comp insurance. How long it takes your claim to be processed and turn into a settlement check will depend on the case. You may be able to take steps to speed up the recovery process, such as hiring a workers’ compensation attorney.

Average Workers’ Comp Settlement Timeline

The simplest and most straightforward workers’ compensation claims in Pennsylvania can be resolved within about a month of the date of the injury. When everything goes smoothly, the workers’ comp insurance company will promptly investigate the claim and offer a settlement that is reasonable based on the circumstances. The claimant will accept the settlement and the check will be cut roughly two weeks later, making the entire process take about 28 days.

In Pennsylvania, a workers’ compensation insurance company has 30 days to acknowledge the receipt of a claim and decide whether to accept or reject it. If an insurer decides that it needs more time to investigate, however, it can request an extension. An extension can last indefinitely, but the insurer must provide a valid reason for the delay and send updates every 45 days. This means that your workers’ compensation claim may take longer than a month if you have a complicated case. Your case may also take longer if the insurance provider is intentionally delaying things to avoid paying you.

Claim vs. Trial

One important factor when it comes to determining how long your workers’ compensation claim will take is an insurance settlement vs. trial. Insurance settlements are agreements made between the injured party and the insurance company without the matter going before a judge at trial. Insurance settlements are generally faster than full trials, typically resolving in one to three months. 

You may need to take your workers’ comp claim to trial, however, if your employer’s insurance company is refusing to offer an adequate settlement or has rejected your claim. If your case goes to trial, you can expect it to take up to a year or much longer, depending on how busy the courthouse is in your county.

Factors That May Extend Your Workers’ Comp Timeline

Aside from the possibility of going to trial, other factors could also increase the amount of time that it takes for a workers’ comp insurance company to resolve your claim. The best way to understand how long your case will take to result in a workers’ comp settlement check for you and your family is by consulting with an attorney. An attorney will carefully analyze your case to search for factors that can affect your timeline, such as:

  • Injury severity and how long it takes you to reach your point of maximum medical improvement.
  • Lengthy settlement negotiations for a catastrophic workplace injury.
  • Missing information on your original claim.
  • Your employer or the insurance company denying liability for your accident.
  • A lack of cooperation or other issues during an investigation.
  • Bad-faith insurance tactics, such as delaying your payout or failing to respond promptly to your initial claim.

Some of these factors are honest and reasonable, such as waiting for a victim to recover enough to fully understand the cost of medical care. Others, however, point to insurance bad faith. Bad faith means that a workers’ comp insurance company is knowingly and willfully mishandling a claim to avoid paying a worker. If you suspect that a delay in the processing of your workers’ comp claim is insurance bad faith, talk to an attorney about filing an additional lawsuit against the insurance provider. An attorney can search for ways to resolve your workers’ compensation claim as quickly and efficiently as possible.

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