How Long Do Atlanta Workers Comp Cases Last?

If you were injured while performing your job duties, you have the right to file a claim for workers comp benefits. These include coverage of medical care costs and lost wages. However, benefits don’t kick in immediately. You must wait until your Atlanta workers comp lawyer gets your claim approved. So, how long have you got to wait during a workers comp case until you start getting benefits?

The answer varies a lot from case to case. Simple claims involving average injuries will close within a few weeks. Complex cases where workers suffered life-changing injuries can take years until the final settlement is approved. Here are some of the key factors that play an important role in the duration of workers comp cases in Atlanta.

1. How Soon You File the Claim

Georgia law states that you have 1 year to file a workers comp claim. But you should not wait that long. Instead, you should contact an experienced workers comp attorney as soon as possible after your workplace accident.

The attorney will need time to collect and analyze all available evidence and negotiate your claim with the insurance company, which will definitely try to deny it.

2. Complying with Deadlines and Rules for Filling in Paperwork

One of the golden rules of workers comp is to do everything by the book. This means:

  • Informing your employer of your accident as soon as possible after it happened
  • Taking the drug test, which is the employer’s right to administer
  • Going to the nearest hospital immediately after the accident
  • Filling in paperwork correctly and submitting it on time

In general, clerical errors, especially in filing in the WC-14 Form, are the main reason for most delays in claim approval. You should let a lawyer assist you in filing it and making sure it is submitted to all parties mentioned on the form.

3. The Strength of Available Evidence

Some workers comp cases drag longer, because the insurance company challenges the available evidence. The most contentious cases, which take longer to settle involve:

  • workplace accidents that happen on a Monday or the next day after you took personal time off
  • claims involving repetitive stress injuries or occupational diseases
  • claims filed by workers with a pre-existing injury or condition
  • claims where you reported the injury to your employer several days later
  • claims involving accidents with no eyewitnesses and no CCTV cameras to record the incident

In such cases, you need to hire an experienced Atlanta workers comp lawyer to fight for your rights. If you file the claim on your own, it will certainly be denied and you would have to face the complex task of filing an appeal.

a workers comp claim can last months before it settles

4. How Long until You Reach Maximum Medical Improvement

Maximum medical improvement (MMI) defines the moment when no further treatments can improve your condition. If you suffered minor to average injuries, this moment happens within a few weeks, when you are declared fully recovered and able to return to work.

However, some workplace accidents result in catastrophic injuries, such as:

  • amputation
  • spinal cord injury
  • severe burns
  • traumatic brain injury

In this case, it takes many months until the workers comp doctor can state that the patient reached MMI. At this point, the doctor has to determine the workers’ impairment rating, so that the lawyer can negotiate the permanent disability benefits the worker deserves.

5. The Need to File an Appeal

In some cases, the insurance company denies a claim despite your lawyer’s best effort. At this point, the attorney will give you an honest opinion of winning an appeal. If you have a strong case, and the insurance denies it out of principle, you have a good chance of getting the benefits you deserve.

However, the appeal process takes time, because you have to appear before a judge of the State Board of Workers Compensation. Depending on the case load, you may have to wait between a few weeks and a few months before the hearing is scheduled.

On the average, workers comp cases that get approved after going through the appeal process can take up to two years.

Let an Experienced Workers Comp Lawyer Handle Your Claim!

When it comes to obtaining the benefits you deserve, you must be patient and let your Atlanta workers comp lawyer prepare and negotiate your claim. You must remember that your attorney has your best interests at heart and will fight for every dollar you deserve to get in medical care cost, replacement wages or disability benefits.

Do not delay starting your claim process – call us today to schedule a free case evaluation at 470-518-5026!