How long your workers’ compensation case stays open will depend on a variety of factors. Every case is different: different injury, different employee and employer, different insurance company, and different facts. A few of the factors affecting case closure include the benefits you need, your rehabilitation plan, the insurance company’s denial of benefits, and progress of settlement discussions.
Depending on your injury and the time you miss from work due to the injury, you will be eligible for different types of benefits. If you miss no time from work, your claim will remain open while you receive any medical care you need. If you miss time from work, payment of your wage loss benefits will begin after you have been disabled for 10 days. After that, you can receive wage loss benefits for quite a long time depending on your injury and whether you can return to work. For example, you can receive temporary partial disability benefits until 450 weeks past the initial injury date. You can receive permanent total disability benefits until retirement. Your claim will remain open during this time.
Rehabilitation Plan and Return to Work
If you participate in a vocational rehabilitation plan directed by a QRC, your workers’ compensation claim will remain open while you finish the plan. Each plan is different, but vocational services may take some time to complete. If you qualify for retraining, you may receive it for up to 156 weeks.
It takes some injured workers a long time to return to work, whether because of the extent of their injuries or because they need changes to their job to continue working. A knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer never pushes his or her clients to return to work before they are ready, even if the claim stays open for years.
Denial of Benefits and Claim Petition Process
Workers’ compensation cases take longer to close if the insurance company denies benefits and the worker files a Claim Petition. At this point, the worker and the insurance company conduct discovery and depositions to find out important medical information and other facts that may resolve the dispute over compensability. This can take six months or more to complete.
If the parties do not resolve the dispute (see below), the claim will go to a hearing before a workers’ compensation judge. The hearing is like a court trial and will last a half-day or more. After the hearing, the judge will issue a decision resolving the dispute. The injured worker can appeal the judge’s decision to the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals.
Some workers’ compensation cases settle long before they go to a hearing. Settlement involves a compromise between the worker and the insurance company. The company agrees to pay a certain amount of money in exchange for a release of the worker’s claims. Some settlements leave medical benefits open, meaning that the worker receives continuing medical benefits but gives up his right to wage loss or rehabilitation benefits.
Need help getting workers’ compensation for your injury? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.