How Long Does a Workers’ Compensation Claim Take?

March 10, 2024 | Ed Bernstein
How Long Does a Workers’ Compensation Claim Take?

If you sustained an injury or illness while on the job – and while working within the scope of your employment – you may be eligible to file a workers' compensation claim for benefits. The amount of time it takes to resolve a workers' comp claim will depend upon several factors, including the extent of your injuries, whether you settle your case, and whether there is a third-party liability component to your case.

An experienced worker's compensation lawyer in your area can determine your eligibility for filing a claim and oversee every step of the process. They will do everything possible to maximize your workers' comp benefits and any additional compensation you receive as part of a third-party claim or lawsuit.


Eligibility for Filing a Workers' Comp Claim

Workers' Compensation Claim

Employees must meet specific criteria to be eligible to file a workers' compensation claim after an on-the-job accident. First, the incident must have occurred while the individual was engaged in work-related activities. This encompasses a broad spectrum, ranging from injuries sustained during regular work hours to those that happen while traveling for business or attending work-related events.

Furthermore, eligibility hinges on the injured party's identification as an employee rather than an independent contractor. Distinctions between the two are crucial as workers' compensation benefits are typically available to employees only. Individuals need to clarify their employment status to ensure their eligibility for filing a claim.

The immediacy of reporting is another critical factor. Employees must promptly notify their employer of the accident or injury. Timely reporting is pivotal in initiating the claims process to proceed to the next steps. Failure to report the incident promptly might jeopardize the eligibility for compensation.

In addition, the injured employee must seek medical attention promptly and follow prescribed medical protocols. This includes adhering to treatment plans, attending medical appointments, and obtaining necessary documentation related to the injury. A consistent and cooperative approach toward medical care not only aids in the recovery process but also substantiates the legitimacy of the workers' compensation claim.

Employers typically carry workers' compensation insurance, and eligibility for benefits is contingent upon the employer's coverage. Employees must diligently verify their employer's insurance coverage and confirm that their injury falls within the policy's purview.

Eligibility for filing a workers' compensation claim after a workplace accident is contingent upon factors such as the nature of the injury, employee classification, timely reporting, adherence to medical protocols, employer insurance coverage, and compliance with safety standards. Understanding and satisfying these criteria are paramount in navigating the process and securing the benefits owed to the injured party.

Factors That May Affect the Length of a Workers' Comp Claim

Several factors can influence the duration of a workers' compensation claim — each case is unique. These factors are as follows:

  • Severity of the Injury — The severity of the injury significantly affects the length of the claim. More severe injuries often require extensive medical treatments, surgeries, and rehabilitation, elongating the claims process.
  • Timely Reporting — Timely reporting of the injury is another critical factor. Promptly informing the employer about the incident enables swift initiation of the claims process. Delays in reporting can hinder the investigation and may lead to complications in verifying the claim's legitimacy, potentially prolonging the entire procedure.
  • Medical Complexities — Medical complexities arising from the injury can extend the duration of a workers' compensation claim. Complicated injuries may necessitate multiple medical opinions, examinations, and specialized treatments, all contributing to an extended claims timeline.
  • Disputes — Disasters between the injured employee and the employer or insurance provider can lead to delays. Conflicts may arise regarding the cause of the injury, the extent of disability, or the appropriate compensation amount. Resolving such disputes through negotiation, mediation, or, in some cases, litigation in the court system protracts the overall claims process.
  • Rehabilitation and Recovery — Rehabilitation and recovery are crucial in determining the duration of a workers' compensation claim. The time required for an injured employee to reach maximum medical improvement varies based on the injury's nature and the effectiveness of the prescribed treatments. A full recovery may take time, and the claims process often continues until the individual has regained sufficient health to return to work.
  • Administrative Efficiency — Administrative factors, such as the efficiency of the workers' compensation system in a particular jurisdiction, can also influence the length of a claim. Differences in processing times, administrative backlog, and procedural intricacies can introduce variability in the duration of the claims process.

The length of a workers' compensation claim is contingent upon factors like the severity of the injury, timely reporting, medical complexities, disputes, rehabilitation duration, and administrative efficiency. Each of these elements contributes to the overall timeline, emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive understanding of these factors for employees and employers involved in the workers' compensation process.

Common Injuries in a Workplace Accident

Workplace accidents can result in various injuries, some more prevalent than others. One of the most common injuries is musculoskeletal strain or sprain, often due to lifting heavy objects, repetitive motions, or awkward postures. These injuries can affect different body parts, such as the back, neck, or limbs, and may lead to discomfort and reduced mobility.

Slips, trips, and falls are another frequent cause of workplace injuries. Employees may slip on wet surfaces, trip over obstacles, or fall from elevated areas. These accidents can result in injuries ranging from minor bruises to more severe fractures or head injuries, depending on the height of the fall and the circumstances of the incident.

Cuts and lacerations are prevalent in various work environments, especially those involving tools, machinery, or sharp objects. Employees may accidentally cut themselves while handling equipment or working with glass or metal.

Occupational hazards like exposure to harmful substances or environments can lead to respiratory issues, skin conditions, or other long-term health problems. Inhaling toxic fumes, dust, or chemicals, as well as skin contact with hazardous substances, can result in injuries that may not manifest immediately but can have lasting effects.

Traumatic injuries, such as fractures or contusions, can occur in industries involving heavy machinery or equipment. Accidents involving collisions, falling objects, or equipment malfunctions can lead to immediate, visible injuries that often require medical attention and time off work for recovery.

Repetitive stress injuries are common in jobs that involve repetitive movements, such as typing, assembly line work, or data entry. These injuries can affect the hands, wrists, or other body parts and may develop over time due to prolonged, repetitive tasks.

Electrical injuries pose another significant risk in certain workplaces. Employees may suffer electric shocks, burns, or other injuries when working with faulty wiring and electrical equipment or in environments with constant electricity.

Workplace injuries vary in nature, but some are more common. For instance, musculoskeletal strains, slips and falls, cuts, exposure to harmful substances, traumatic injuries, repetitive stress injuries, and electrical injuries are among the most prevalent. Prioritizing safety measures, proper training, and maintaining a vigilant work environment are crucial in minimizing these common injuries and ensuring the well-being of employees.

Types of Recoverable Workers' Comp Benefits

Workers' compensation benefits aim to financially support injured or ill employees. These benefits include:

  • Medical Benefits — One of the primary types of recoverable benefits is medical benefits. This covers the costs of necessary medical treatments, including hospital visits, surgeries, medications, and rehabilitation. Employees can seek reimbursement for all reasonable and related medical expenses incurred due to the workplace injury.
  • Lost Income Benefits — Lost income benefits are another crucial aspect of workers' compensation. These benefits compensate employees for lost income when they cannot work due to injury. There are two types of lost income benefits: temporary total disability benefits, which compensate employees who cannot work during their recovery, and temporary partial disability benefits, which apply when an employee can return to work in a limited capacity.
  • Permanent Disability Benefits — Permanent disability benefits are available for individuals with lasting impairment or disabilities due to a workplace injury. The severity of the disability determines the extent of these benefits. Permanent partial disability benefits are available when an employee experiences a partial impairment, while permanent total disability benefits are for those who cannot return to any gainful employment due to injury.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits — Vocational rehabilitation benefits seek to assist employees in returning to work after a workplace injury. This may involve job retraining, education, or placement services to help injured workers acquire new skills or find alternative employment that accommodates their physical limitations.
  • Death Benefits — Death benefits are available to the surviving dependents of an employee who dies as a result of a workplace injury or illness. These benefits typically include compensation for funeral expenses and financial support for the deceased employee's dependents.
  • Disfigurement or Scarring Benefits — In some cases, workers' compensation may cover specific disfigurement or scarring resulting from a workplace injury. Compensation for disfigurement depends on the location and extent of the scarring to provide additional support for the psychological and emotional repercussions of such injuries.

Workers' compensation includes medical benefits, lost income benefits (temporary total and temporary partial disability), permanent disability benefits (partial and total), vocational rehabilitation benefits, death benefits, and compensation for disfigurement. These benefits aim to alleviate the financial burden on employees and their families after a workplace injury.

Filing a Third-party Claim Arising from a Workplace Accident

Filing a Third-party Claim

In certain workplace accidents, employees may have the option to file a third-party negligence claim alongside their workers' compensation claim. This occurs when someone other than the employer or a co-worker is responsible for the injury. Filing both types of claims can provide additional avenues for compensation and is particularly relevant in situations where negligence by a third party contributed to the workplace accident.

When pursuing a third-party negligence claim, employees must identify the responsible party. This might be a manufacturer of faulty equipment, a contractor, or another entity outside the employer-employee relationship. Establishing liability against the third party involves demonstrating their negligence or wrongful actions that led to the workplace injury.

One advantage of filing a third-party claim is the potential for broader compensation. Unlike workers' compensation, which typically covers medical expenses and lost income, a third-party claim may include damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. This comprehensive approach can provide more extensive financial relief for the injured employee.

However, coordination between workers' compensation and third-party negligence claims is crucial. Compensation received from one source may affect the benefits available from the other. For instance, funds obtained through a third-party settlement might be subject to reimbursement requirements for the workers' compensation insurer.

Gathering evidence is a pivotal step in building a strong third-party negligence claim. This involves collecting documentation, witness statements, and other relevant information that establishes the third party's liability. The goal is to present a compelling case demonstrating the connection between the third party's actions and the workplace injury.

Engaging the services of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney is crucial when pursuing a third-party negligence claim. An experienced attorney navigates the complexities of the legal process and plays a pivotal role in protecting the injured employee's rights and ensuring an effective presentation of the case. By offering professional guidance, they enhance the likelihood of a successful resolution and optimal compensation for the injured party.

Filing a third-party negligence claim, alongside a workers' compensation claim, strategically aims to secure additional compensation in cases where a third party's negligence contributes to a workplace accident. Identifying the responsible party, coordinating claims, gathering comprehensive evidence, and promptly securing legal representation are vital steps in effectively pursuing this dual avenue for compensation.

Contact an Experienced Workers' Compensation Lawyer in Your Area Today

If you suffered an on-the-job injury or illness, securing experienced legal representation is crucial. Your attorney can promptly evaluate your claim, explore available options, and work diligently to resolve your workers' compensation claim and any potential third-party claim, ensuring a swift and efficient process. With their experience, you can navigate the complexities of the legal system, understand your rights, and pursue the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses.

Consultations are free, so act now to protect your rights and financial future.


Ed Bernstein

Edward M. Bernstein, Esq. is the owner and founding partner of Edward M. Bernstein & Associates, and one of the most recognizable figures in Nevada. Ed is one of state’s premier personal injury attorneys and has hosted The Ed Bernstein Show for over 31 years. He has served the Las Vegas community for decades with dozens of community appointments and terms of service. In the year 2000, he was Nevada’s Democratic nominee for the United States Senate.

Ed received his B.A. from Long Island University in 1971 and his J.D. from Widener University in 1975. Since then, Ed’s professional accolades include numerous publications, honors and awards, court appointments, and has been named one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.