Filing for workers’ compensation benefits in Texas can be the simplest way to obtain financial reimbursement for your medical expenses and lost wages after a job-related accident. Although Texas law does not require all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance, most do. If you are at the beginning of a workers’ compensation case after a workplace accident, you may wonder how long reaching a settlement will take. While each case is unique, the average time for the first check is 14 days after you notify your employer of the injury.
First 24 Hours: Injury Reporting and Medical Care
The first month after your accident will be for accident and injury reporting and doctor’s visits. You have 30 days to report your accident to your employer, but you should do so as soon as possible. Reporting your accident begins your workers’ compensation claim. Fill out all your documents carefully. Missing a step or putting the wrong information could delay your claim by days or weeks.
The first weeks after your accident should also involve doctor’s appointments. Seek care from an approved physician. Keep copies of all medical records, bills, and treatment-related documents. The sooner you see a doctor, the better for your claim. Delaying medical care may not only hold your settlement up, but it also hurt your odds of securing compensation. The insurance company could use the delay against you to allege that it exacerbated your injuries or illness.
First Two Weeks: Insurance Company Decision
Most states have rules in place forcing insurance companies to either deny or accept a workers’ compensation benefits claim within a reasonable amount of time. This time limit can vary from 14 to 30 days, but typically an insurance provider has 14 days to issue a response. Insurance companies can file to ask for deadline extensions if they need more time to investigate before deciding. Once the insurance company has made its decision (if it approves the claim), you should receive your first check in the mail within a few weeks.
First Month: Workers’ Compensation Check
It can take four to eight weeks between the time the insurance company accepts your claim and the time you have money in your hands. The timeline will depend on whether lawyers are involved, how long it takes to draft settlement contracts and the amount of back and forth between the claimant and the insurance company. If you have a simple case and do not need attorneys to reach a settlement, you could get your first check sooner. Hiring a lawyer may be necessary, however, if you have a more complex case or if the insurance company denies your claim.
First Year and Beyond: Trial and Medical Surveillance
If you must file a personal injury lawsuit in pursuit of fair compensation after a workplace injury, achieving a settlement will take longer. You have two years from the date of your accident to file your lawsuit. The claims process may then exceed one year while both parties undergo discovery, hearings, and/or a trial. The average length of time for a workers’ compensation settlement via trial is around 15 months. Using an attorney to represent you can expedite the process as much as possible.
Your workers’ compensation claim will not end completely until you reach the point of maximum medical improvement. This is the point at which a physician believes you will not recover any further. Until you reach this point, the insurance company cannot offer you an accurate settlement, since the extent of your injuries and its impact on your life remains unknown. Reaching the point of maximum medical improvement could take months or even years. During this time, you should continue to receive disability benefits.
Every case is unique. Speak to an attorney for a more precise timeline of events for your particular workers’ compensation claim.