Being involved in litigation is never pleasant. Litigation means conflict, and if you are running a business, you likely do not have the time or energy to devote to this extra struggle. If your employee has sustained a work-related injury, it will come as no surprise when a workers’ compensation case follows soon thereafter. Once you know that the workers’ compensation case is pending, you likely want to know how long it will take until the case has been resolved.
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is “it depends.” Cases can vary wildly in length due to variance in complexity, the seriousness of the injury, and whether you or your insurance company disagree with the medical assessment, just to name a few reasons. If there is a suspicion of fraud, the case can become even more complicated and lengthy. In a nutshell, the more detailed and complex the case, the longer it is likely to take. This is because it is likely to take a longer time to gather the evidence needed for each side to prove his or her respective position. All that said, if the case is straightforward, the injury relatively minor, and neither side disagrees about any issues, the case could be potentially over in as little as a couple of months. The parties are free to reach an agreement at any point during the case, even at the very beginning. Employers should be advised, however, that any settlement agreement must be approved by the workers’ compensation judge. It is possible for a judge to reject the settlement, even if the employee, the employer, and the insurance company have all signed the agreement. The judge will examine whether the settlement is adequate considering all of the circumstances.
There are some areas of the case that are particularly prone to delaying the case. One area is filing the claim. Without the claim of injury, the case cannot move forward. Investigating the claim can also be a source of delay, as the investigator has ninety days from the date the claim is filed pursuant to labor code 5402(b). If there is a dispute about whether an injured employee is permanently impaired. If that happens, either side may request an assessment of a qualified medical examiner.
If you have questions the timeline of a workers’ compensation case, call us today. We can talk to you about your case and how long it may take.