If the workers’ compensation offer you receive is satisfactory, it can take just a few weeks to complete the process and collect your benefits. For matters involving unsatisfactory settlement amounts, the process may take a few additional months to resolve.
While the insurer has up to 21 days to approve or deny benefits, a dispute or negotiation can take additional time. You may not want to accept the insurance company’s first offer if you believe it is not comparable to your injury.
Hiring an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer can help you protect your rights and provide you with legal advice throughout the entire claims process. If you do not receive coverage through a negotiated settlement, an attorney may recommend that you pursue a formal appeal before an administrative judge panel. It is an opportunity to resolve your claim, but it will further lengthen your case’s timeline.
The Timeline of a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Workers’ compensation cases typically follow a similar path when working toward negotiating a settlement. However, every work injury case is unique, meaning your case could take more or less time than average.
If you hire an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer, he or she can provide insight regarding how long it might take to settle, while accounting for other issues that may arise. Here are a few phases that your case may follow:
1. Reporting the Injury to Your Manager or Employer
Before taking any further steps, you must report your on-the-job injury to the employer or manager. In Georgia, you have up to 30 days from the date of the accident to report it.
If you do not report your injury within the allotted timeframe, then you may lose the right to compensation entirely. Once received, your employer will open a claim through its insurer to cover your work-related injuries.
2. Obtain Medical Treatment and an Evaluation
After reporting your injury, you will need to receive a medical evaluation. You can select the physician based on an approved list of providers from your employer or the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC). The physician will establish the extent of your injuries and provide an opinion regarding your ability to return to work.
Make sure you comply with your doctor’s orders implicitly. Failing to follow his or her advice can negatively impact your claim. If you disagree with your diagnosis and treatment options, you may seek a second opinion from an approved provider.
3. Reach Maximum Medical Improvement
Your doctor will determine the point at which you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI signifies that your physician believes your injuries have healed or that you cannot improve your medical condition beyond its current state.
If you are not expected to return to MMI, the doctor will assign you a rating for your partial or permanent disability. The time it takes to reach MMI varies from person to person.
4. Negotiate a Settlement
Next, you can submit your medical records in order to receive your workers’ compensation offer. The offer hinges upon the circumstances and facts of your workers’ compensation case and the level of injury you are facing. Based on your ability and timeline to reach MMI, you might need to negotiate additional benefits if you are not satisfied with the amount you received.
An attorney can help you fight for a fair settlement, which can take anywhere between a few weeks and several months. He or she will negotiate with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer by presenting evidence, testimony, and expert opinion during this phase of the process.
For a free legal consultation, call (404) 888-8888
The Timeline for a Workers’ Compensation Appeal
If you receive a denial of benefits, you can apply for an appeal hearing. Administrative courts oversee workers’ compensation appeals. While administrative judges will hold hearings, they are separate from traditional civil court matters.
Engaging in a workers’ compensation appeal can add a significant amount of time to your case. Your attorney can keep you up to date on the status of your case and help you devise a strategy that works toward meeting your workers’ compensation needs.
When to File Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
The statute of limitations is a legal time limit by which you have to file your workers’ compensation claim. In Georgia, you have up to one year from the date of your injury.
If you miss this deadline, you no longer possess the legal right to receive compensation. However, there are exceptions that apply to this rule in matters involving injured workers who have not reached MMI.
Once the employer and insurer receive your medical expense notice, they have up to 30 days to approve your benefits. Mileage reimbursement for travel is approved or denied within 15 days from the date of submission. Submitting your costs within the time limit will help you secure the money you need to pay for your work injury losses.
Contact an Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Help
Georgia workers’ compensation law is complicated. Navigating a claim requires taking numerous steps within a designated timeframe. While the information provided above is helpful, every work-related accident is different.
While it is not possible to tell you how long your case will take at this moment, hiring an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer can help you set expectations. An attorney can also protect your legal interests and rights while you focus on your health and recovery.
Bader Scott Injury Lawyers offers a free, no-obligation consultation to prospective clients. Our firm is available to answer your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call us now to request yours: (678)-562-5595.