Waiting for your workers’ compensation claim to settle and end in a check mailed to you for your family’s needs is not easy. You may be facing considerable financial losses between your medical expenses and lost wages combined. However, all workers’ compensation settlements in Georgia require approval by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. The insurance and approval processes take time. How much time depends on the specifics of your case.
Time Limit to File
The portion of your workers’ compensation claim that is within your control as an injured worker is filing the initial paperwork. Although state law gives you 30 days to report your accident to your employer and one year to file a workers’ compensation claim, acting sooner can lead to a faster resolution.
Report your work-related injury to your employer as soon as possible. Do not delay in receiving medical care, either. Then, rather than waiting until the end of your one-year time limit, file a workers’ compensation claim in Georgia right away.
You should also act quickly to bring a cause of action if you have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit. Although Georgia’s statute of limitations is two years from the date of an accident, do not wait if you wish for the fastest possible settlement.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance Laws in Georgia
Upon receiving the initial claim, the insurance company will investigate the facts of the accident and decide whether or not to accept benefits. The investigation can take several days or weeks, depending on the circumstances of the accident. The insurance company has no more than 21 days, however, from the first day you missed work due to your occupational injury or illness to mail you your first benefits check.
If you have a complicated workers’ compensation case that requires a hearing, O.C.G.A. 34-9-105 states that the hearing must be scheduled at least 30 days from filing the original workers’ comp form (WC-14), but no later than 90 days. Typically, the discovery phase is the longest part of a workers’ comp hearing. Discovery is where either side of the case can request documents and information from the other, as well as conduct depositions to fully understand the facts.
Factors That Could Speed Up or Slow Down Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
For the most part, state law and how the workers’ compensation process is set up results in a condensed time limit for workers’ comp benefits. Most injured employees in Georgia can expect to receive their first benefit checks within three weeks of the first day they had to miss work because of their injuries. However, the entire process can take anywhere from three to six months or longer, depending on the circumstances.
Factors that could make your workers’ compensation claim take longer include:
- Waiting to file your claim.
- Making mistakes on your claims paperwork.
- Suffering a serious injury that takes a long time to reach the point of maximum medical improvement.
- The insurance company failing to handle your claim fairly.
- A lengthy discovery process.
- A busy courthouse with a long wait time for a hearing date.
- Either party filing an appeal after the initial ruling.
Conversely, factors that could speed your claim up include:
- Reporting your accident to your employer immediately.
- Not delaying medical care.
- Following your doctor’s treatment plan exactly.
- Being careful not to make any mistakes when filing your initial claim.
- Cooperating with the insurance company’s investigation.
- Gathering information and evidence yourself whenever possible.
- Having a lawyer take care of the legal process for you for maximum efficiency.
There is no set time limit for when a workers’ compensation case will settle in Georgia. Every case and claimant are unique. It is important, however, not to rush your settlement. This could end in you accepting less than you deserve for your injuries and related expenses from a workers’ compensation insurance company. Instead, consult with an attorney for ways to speed up your claim without compromising your results or future.