How Long Does It Take to Settle a Workers’ Comp Case in Florida?
When you have a workers’ comp claim, negotiating a settlement allows you to receive a lump-sum payment. Instead of receiving bi-weekly checks, you get paid all at once, and you don’t have to worry about the insurance company stopping your payments prematurely.
However, negotiating a workers’ comp settlement isn’t something that happens overnight. It can easily take several months, if not a year or longer. The amount of time it takes to settle a workers’ comp case depends on several factors, including your choice of Orlando workers’ comp attorney. You won’t really be able to get an idea of how long it will take to settle your case until you start the process.
5 Factors that Determine How Long it Takes to Settle a Workers’ Comp Case
The factors that determine how long it takes to settle a workers’ comp case aren’t established by law, and they aren’t the same in all cases. Instead, these factors largely have to do with the practicalities of negotiating a workers’ comp settlement. Companies are never required to settle, so negotiating a settlement is a matter of convincing the insurance company (or your employer, if it self-insures for workers’ comp) that it should pay now instead of waiting to see how much it will have to pay over time.
Here are five examples of factors that can determine how long it takes to negotiate a workers’ comp settlement in Florida:
1. The Nature of Your Injury or Illness
In order to be eligible for workers’ comp benefits, you must have a work-related injury or illness. While proving that a traumatic injury is work-related can be fairly straightforward (in some cases), proving that a repetitive stress injury or illness is work-related often proves more challenging.
If the insurance company (or your employer) disputes the fact that your medical condition is work-related, this could extend the timeline for negotiating a settlement. On the other hand, if it is clear that you are entitled to benefits, this could help streamline the settlement process.
2. The Available Evidence
In addition to proving that your injury or illness qualifies for workers’ comp, you also need to prove how much you are entitled to recover. Proving your workers’ comp claim requires evidence. The more evidence you have in support of your claim, the easier it will generally be to negotiate a fair workers’ comp settlement.
What types of evidence do you need? Photographs, your injury report, and your medical records will all be key pieces of evidence in support of your claim. Your Orlando workers’ compensation attorney may also be able to collect additional forms of evidence in order to help convince the insurance company (or your employer) to settle.
3. The Insurance Company (or Your Employer)
The company that is responsible for paying your workers’ comp benefits is an important factor as well. While some companies will consider all relevant evidence and negotiate in good faith, others will not. If you are dealing with a difficult company, this could delay the settlement process through no fault of your own.
4. The Amount in Dispute
The amount in dispute is a key factor in workers’ comp settlement negotiations. The greater the disparity between how much you want and how much the insurance company (or your employer) is willing to pay, the longer it will take to reach a settlement in most cases.
5. Your Choice of Legal Representation
Your choice of legal representation is also an important factor. While no workers’ compensation lawyer can guarantee a settlement (much less a quick settlement), hiring a lawyer who has experience successfully representing injured and sick workers will give you the best chance of securing a fair settlement as efficiently as possible.
What Can I Do While I’m Waiting to Receive a Settlement?
Since it takes time to negotiate a workers’ comp settlement, what can you do about your medical bills and other expenses while your claim is pending? Even if you aren’t able to obtain a settlement right away, you should still be able to start collecting regular benefit payments for your job-related injury or illness. If the insurance company (or your employer) refuses to pay, your attorney can help with this as well; and, if necessary, your attorney can seek a settlement that includes payment of past-due benefits.
Talk to an Orlando Workers’ Comp Lawyer for Free
Are you interested in seeking a settlement for your job-related injury or illness? If so, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free consultation. To speak with an Orlando workers’ comp lawyer for free, call (407) 712-7300 today. We serve clients in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and throughout Florida.