How Long Does It Take To Receive My Workers’ Comp Check?
January 30, 2024 | Workers’ Compensation
The workers’ compensation system is, in a sense, a substitute for the personal injury compensation system. It is designed for the benefit of employees who suffer work-related injuries, and relatively low-income workers are the people who are most dependent on workers’ compensation.
If you are one of these people and you are still waiting on your check, you need to understand how the system works.
Preliminary: The Pros and Cons of Workers’ Compensation
The main advantage of the workers’ compensation system is that you don’t have to prove your employer was at fault to win compensation. In most cases, you can receive compensation even if the accident was your fault.
The main disadvantage is that your compensation is likely to be much lower than it would be if you won a personal injury lawsuit. An attorney can help you evaluate whether you are eligible to file a lawsuit in your case.
Your best chance of receiving your compensation quickly is to strictly follow the timeline. Take care of the following as soon after your injury as you can:
- Report your injury to your employer. Report verbally, followed by a written report as soon as you are able. Naturally, your injuries might make it difficult for you to file a written report. You might consider having a friend write down your report and send it to your employer. For maximum compensation, you must file your written report within 21 days of your injury.
If you file your report any time between Day 21 and Day 120, you will receive benefits only from the date of your filing, not retroactively to the date of your accident. If you delay past 120 days, you might not receive benefits at all.
- Seek medical attention immediately. Do not delay medical treatment, because this will raise questions about the severity of your injury. After your emergency care has been rendered, you might have to seek medical care from a doctor of your employer’s choice for the first 90 days.
Your employer should promptly report your injury to workers’ compensation. If they don’t, they could significantly delay your receipt of benefits.
The Waiting Period
You must endure a waiting period after you report your injury, while involved parties determine whether they believe your claim is valid. First of all, Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law mandates a seven-day waiting period.
If you are out of work for seven days or less, you cannot claim any lost earnings (although you can still claim medical expenses). You can claim disability payments for your second week, and if your period of disability exceeds 14 days, you can even get reimbursement for your first seven days off work.
There are several possible delays in processing your claim.
Insurance Company Bureaucratic Delays
The workers’ compensation insurance carrier will need some time to verify your claim. They will review your medical records, your employment records, and the facts surrounding your accident or illness.
Pennsylvania law requires them to decide on your claim within 21 days of receiving your notification. Ideally, they will issue you a Notification of Compensation Payable within that three-week window.
Any delay in reporting your injury, by you or by your employer, will probably delay your receipt of a Notification of Compensation Payable. The insurance company might be responsible for some delay as well.
The real delays begin if the insurance company or your employer doubts the validity of your claim. If the insurance company is stubborn enough, you might have to file a claim petition and attend a hearing. Even this is no guarantee.
Your best bet, however, is to provide accurate information and not exaggerate the seriousness of your injury even a little bit. The insurance company refers to exaggeration as “malingering,” and it can carry serious consequences.
Your wage replacement benefits should arrive once every two weeks. It might take two or three weeks for the first check to arrive, however. You should continue receiving these checks until you return to work.
Denial of Your Claim
If the insurance company denies your claim, you might experience months of delay. In a worst-case scenario, you might never receive any money at all. This is where the assistance of anty experienced workers’ compensation lawyer really comes in handy.
A Trusted Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can Help You at Every Stage
An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help you every step of the way, from reporting your injury to appealing your denial. Most workers’ compensation lawyers charge nothing upfront – and nothing ever in attorney’s fees – unless they win money for your claim.
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945 East Park Drive, Suite 103 Harrisburg, PA 17111
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833 N. Park Road, Suite 103, Room A Wyomissing, PA 19610