How Long Will My Case Take?
I get asked this workers’ compensation question, “How long will my case take?” Sometimes people call me dissatisfied with the process and wonder if their attorney isn’t doing enough work to settle their case. I assure them that he or she likely is working the case correctly. Unfortunately, the process for getting to court for a judge to decide an issue in a workers’ compensation claim is slow. While I can’t change the process right now, I can assure you that I move your case as quickly as possible.
Timeline – Initial Process
Below is a general timeline to get your case to a judge:
- After signing up and receiving the Fee Contract, I file it with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. This allows me to officially file your claim and to speak to the insurance company (or their attorney if they have one) on your behalf. (Timeline: Immediate)
- For unresolved issues, I file a WC-14 Request For Hearing. Once the Request for Hearing is filed, a date is set for your first hearing” or court date before the Administrative Law Judge.
(Timeline: Hearing date is assigned the same day a Request for Hearing is filed. Typically hearings are set 1-2 months from the time the hearing request is filed.)
- Once the hearing is set or the matter is “placed on the hearing calendar” the insurance company has 30 days to assign a defense attorney to the claim. I will send discovery requests to the insurance company or defense attorney giving 30 days to respond. The insurance company will also likely schedule your deposition (a taking of your statement under oath). Given the various attorney’s schedules, this is typically scheduled around the time of the hearing.
(Timeline: One month to six weeks since the WC-14 Request for Hearing was filed)
- As the first setting of your hearing coincides with your deposition (in most cases), the first set of your hearing will likely be rescheduled or “continued.” In fact, most hearings do not proceed or “go forward” until the 3rd, 4th, or 5th
- Once your deposition is taken the insurance company will request medical records. Based on your deposition testimony, they often request records of your employer regarding any disability benefits or unemployment benefits received. These take at least 30 days from the date of the request.
Timeline – Second Hearing
By this time the 2nd setting of your hearing has arrived. We are beginning to answer the question “How long will the case take?” However, there are often still items to be received such as medical records. The insurance company often requests clarification from a doctor. Sometimes, they send you for an IME or Independent Medical Exam. If so, the 2nd set of your hearing will be “continued” in order for these activities to be completed.
(Timeline: Approximately three months since the WC-14 Request for Hearing was filed)
If an IME is requested by the insurance company, it will usually take at least a few weeks before an appointment can be obtained. Then, several weeks after that, you receive the report. By this time the claim should be ready to hear before the Administrative Law Judge.
(Timeline: Approximately four to five months after the WC-14 Request for Hearing was filed)
As you can see, asking how long will my case take, is a very complicated question. I always do my best to move the case along. However, the judge will allow the defense proper time to obtain information through discovery, depositions and requesting medical reports. Many times, these matters resolve without ever being heard by an Administrative Law Judge. I will keep you informed at all times during the life of your claim. Contact Beth Gearhart for a free consultation and expert insight. Beth listens and cares about her clients.