How Long Will a Workers’ Compensation Case Take?
Suffering a work-related injury or illness can be a challenging experience both physically and emotionally. Workers' compensation serves as a vital safety net, providing financial support and access to medical care. However, many individuals find themselves wondering about the timeline and duration of a workers' compensation case. While each case is unique, understanding the factors that influence the duration can help you prepare for the process ahead. On average, a claim in Illinois can take 2-3 years to resolve. In reality, various factors affect the timeline, and it usually takes as long as it needs to take.
While that’s not the most reassuring answer, working with a trusted attorney can help you work through the uncertain and complex steps in the process.
From Reporting the Incident to Results
Reporting your workplace incident immediately can help you start your claim sooner. Initiating a workers’ compensation case by notifying your employer right away allows for an immediate investigation. This will more than likely speed up the overall process.
Be sure to document and gather evidence to support your case. This may include medical records, accident reports, witness statements or other relevant information. Depending on how complicated the case is, it may take some time compiling all the evidence you need. Additionally, cooperation from both parties is critical to ensuring the timeline of the case stays on track.
Once your incident is reported, the medical evaluation and treatment will come next. Key factors that possibly extend the timeline of your case include:
- how quickly you’re able to access a medical evaluation
- when you start with your doctors’ treatment plan
- availability of medical professionals in your area
- complexity of your injury or illness
TIP: During an active claim, it is recommended to stay off of social media, as anything you say or do may be used as evidence against you.
Filing a Claim & Working with an Attorney
After gathering all the documentation and evidence, you or your legal representative can file a workers’ compensation claim. Don’t worry if you have trouble gathering evidence; a good attorney will be able to help with that. It will take time for this claim to be processed. It’s essential to make sure you provide any and all documentation and evidence up front to prevent any delays. Occasionally, you may be requested to provide additional information or clarification. That’s why it can be easier to work with a workers’ compensation attorney, to get the right paperwork and documentation in from the get-go.
Negotiations & Next Steps
In some cases, the employer or their insurance company may contest the claim, leading to negotiations and potential settlement discussions. How long can this possibly take? It really depends on the willingness of both parties to reach a resolution. If an agreement cannot be reached through negotiation, the case may proceed to a formal hearing.
If you’re required to participate in a formal hearing, your case will be presented before an arbitrator of the workers' compensation commission. This process involves presenting evidence, testimony and legal arguments to support your claim. Scheduling a hearing depends on the court’s caseload and how complex your case is.
After the hearing, there may be an additional waiting period before a decision about your case is made. There may also be more proceedings, such as appeals, which can further extend the duration of the case.
Rockford Lawyers at Your Service
While it is challenging to provide an exact timeline, it is important to be patient and prepared for potential delays throughout the process. Seeking the support of an experienced workers' compensation attorney can help navigate the complexities of the process, ensuring your rights are protected and increasing the likelihood of a favorable outcome. At Black & Jones, we listen to your story and help you fight for the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. And, just remember, filing a claim does not affect your future employment. Call us today at (815) 967-9000 or fill out our form to get your free consultation today.