Most people expect to be kept safe at their place of work in order to be able to execute their job requirements as intended. However, there are times where employees become injured at work or due to the work they have been completing. Eligible employees can receive workers’ compensation benefits when they get injured at work, but those benefits may not be distributed immediately. How long does it usually take for a workers’ compensation settlement to be paid out?
Defining Workers’ Comp
In the state of California, employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover their employees in the event of a workplace injury. Although these benefits are intended to compensate injured employees as they recover from their injuries to return to work, they can also be paid out for extended periods of time in the case of serious injury. Workers’ comp benefits can include:
- Payments for medical treatments intended to help the injured party recover and return to work if possible
- Temporary disability benefits if an employee is injured in a way that prevents them from working during their recovery period. This is compensation for lost wages.
- Permanent disability benefits if an employee is injured in a way that they cannot recover from; serious injury could result in life pension payments. This is compensation for the injured workers’ loss of future earning capacity as a result of their injuries.
- Death benefits to the family of an employee if that employee dies due to their work-related illness or injury
- Supplemental job displacement benefits which can help pay for the cost of retraining someone if they return to their company after recovering from their injury but cannot perform the tasks of their original job
Who Is Eligible for Workers’ Compensation in California?
In the state of California, the majority of employees are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. The state requires all employers, even those who only have a single employee, to carry workers’ comp insurance. The state does not differentiate between employees who work part-time and those who work full-time when it comes to eligibility, and seasonal workers are included as well. California does not consider immigration status when it comes to workers’ compensation, and undocumented workers are allowed to collect the benefits.
Only a small margin of employees in the state of California are barred from collecting workers’ comp benefits. Those employees include:
- Business owners, sole proprietors, and independent contractors
- Any domestic employees who are related to their employers
- Employees who do not work for pay and receive aid instead, such as food or housing
- People who volunteer for non-profit organizations
- Deputy sheriffs and clerks
The Workers’ Comp Timeline
Any employee injured at work will have to follow certain steps to apply for and begin receiving their workers’ compensation benefits. First, they will need to report their injury to their employer. Anyone who fails to do so within 30 days could lose their right to receiving benefits. They should also receive medical attention so there are records of their injury.
After reporting their injury to their employer, an employee will receive Form DWC-1 from the employer. This form will explain the employee’s rights, their eligibility to receive benefits, and what they need to do to receive those benefits. This form is the employee’s opportunity to explain their injuries in detail. It is then sent to the insurance company, who will then review the claim and respond accordingly.
Note that workers’ compensation insurance companies are required by law to authorize payment for medical treatments while they review claims to ensure their validity. This authorization covers at least $10,000 worth of medical bills. Claims are generally considered to be approved within 90 days if they have not been denied by that point.
Anyone who has to miss work due to their injuries can expect to begin receiving temporary disability benefits within 14 days of informing the insurance company of the injuries. Insurance companies that do not respond within that timeframe by either initiating payments, denying the claim, or asking for more information will have to include 10% more money on late benefits.
What About Settlements?
If an insurance company denies a workers’ compensation claim or fails to provide a reasonable number of benefits, the injured party can appeal that decision. Some appeals can lead to hearings with the court, but many of them settle outside of court. An injured person can consult with their legal team, but it is ultimately up to them if they want to settle.
There are two types of settlements in workers’ compensation cases:
- Compromise and release: Settling a case in this fashion means that the injured party closes their case permanently in exchange for a single lump sum payment. Accepting a lump sum payment means that the injured party will no longer receive payment from workers’ compensation on a regular basis, and they cannot reopen their case later on. This type of settlement also resolves and entitlement the injured worker may have for future medical care through the workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
- Stipulated findings and award: People who opt for this form of settlement will receive biweekly payments from the insurance company based on the severity of their disability. This form of settlement allows for the continued payment of related medical bills and the reopening of a case if the employee’s condition worsens over time.
Although settling out of court prevents all parties from going through court hearings, settlements still need to be approved by a workers’ compensation judge. Lump-sum payments will usually be paid out within 30 days of a judge approving the settlement.
Getting What You Deserve
If you have been injured at work and are considering settling your workers’ compensation case, contact Leigh Law Firm today. We can help you fight for the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to. We understand that this is a difficult time for you and for your loved ones, which is why we will fight aggressively on your behalf while keeping you informed every step of the way. If you are looking for a San Diego workers’ compensation attorney or a Woodland Hills workers’ compensation attorney, Contact us at (619) 473-7569 or online to schedule a free consultation.