The purpose of our Workers’ Compensation Laws is to provide fast medical treatment and benefits to workers who are injured on the job and to get the injured worker back to work. However, when insurance companies are involved, “fast” does not always happen.
A major factor in determining how long a case will take is the prognosis of the treating physician. The goal is for an injured worker to receive treatment and rehab until they reach what we call “Maximum Medical Improvement”. Maximum Medical Improvement” is just an opinion from a doctor that a person has improved as much as they will improve.
Once an injured worker has reached Maximum Medical Improvement, there are basically two options. First, weekly benefits will likely be stopped, but payment for any future medicals can be left open. This means the insurance company is responsible for payment of any medical treatments needed for the injury at issue for the rest of the workers life. One caveat here, if medicals are left open the injured worker must go to the doctor at least once per year related to the injury or the insurance company can close the case completely.
The second option is to settle the claim based upon an estimate of lost wages and future medical needs. With this option, the insurance company will pay a lump sum in exchange for closing the case forever. This option is a benefit to the insurance company because they get a discount on what they pay with the hope the lump sum will be less than what they would pay in the long run if meds were left open. Lump sum settlement is also a benefit to the injured worker because it provides personal control over medical treatments. The injured worker gets to go to the doctor they want without having to have it approved by the insurance company first.
There are lots of variables that will affect how long a workers’ comp case will take. However, having an attorney by your side should push the case along. If our team at Rundlett Law Firm takes a case, we will immediately file a formal claim, push the process, make sure our client gets the treatments they need, and reduce the anxieties that usually accompany a workers’ comp claim.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill