What to Do When Your Workers' Comp Check is Late
Following an injury or illness, most state workers' comp systems depend on employers' insurance companies to process initial claims and pay benefits to injured workers. However, it is unfortunate that some companies avoid paying claims and benefits. If you’re one of those unfortunate enough to experience this, here’s a quick guide to help you know what your next steps should be.
Reasons for Delayed Payments
If your claim is delayed, don't panic. There are numerous reasons why your claim could be slow in the process. For example, you or your employer may have mistakenly reported your injury as a non-injury. Just because your employer's WC insurer is slow to pay you doesn't mean you have to wait for them. And, as bad as you may feel about being injured enough to file a claim, it is not a good idea to simply give up and not assert your rights.
The most common reason for a delay in payment is that your employer's workers' comp insurance company (WC insurance company) has to “investigate” or “interview” you to determine whether you're truly injured. This can be a slow and frustrating process. Your employer's WC insurance company could also be improperly reluctant to pay your claim if they believe you will not be able to return to your job. More commonly, the delay is because the WC insurance company wants to pay less than the amount you deserve.
Steps to Take if Your Insurance Company is Delaying Payment
Step 1: Talk to Your Insurance Adjuster
Before you do anything else, speak your insurance adjuster as to why the payment is delayed. In some cases, the reason for a late check can be errors within the insurance company, a medical report, changing your disability status and even reaching the allowed amount to be given for a case.
Step 2: Contact a Workers' Compensation Attorney
Now that you've talked to your adjuster, it's time to call a workers' comp attorney to help you handle your claim. Your attorney will help you appeal and get the proper benefits for your injuries.
Step 3: Talk to a Healthcare Provider
You should also talk to your health care provider to regarding your work restrictions and work status as their reports can impact your benefits.
Step 4: File a Complaint
If the delay of your payment continues, it is probably time to file a complaint with the WCAB. You can file a motion for penalties and sanctions, the judge can compel the insurance company to pay you what you deserve and any additional money owed to you for the delay.
Step 5: Go to Court
A court won't act on a motion alone, you must go to court to pursue payments owed to you by the insurance company. It's best to have an attorney at this point.
Step 6: Negotiate a Settlement
Sometimes things happen and life gets in the way. You may find yourself in a situation where you need to get the compensation to move things forward in life. In these cases you can always negotiate a settlement to allow you to get paid and get the benefits you deserve. A lawyer can help you negotiate and make sure you are receiving a fair settlement.
The Bottomline—Your Claim is Important
The sooner you act, the better. If a delay of payment is causing you to lose time from work, or you cannot get medical treatment, you need to take action as soon as possible. Take these steps to get the payments you deserve without any delays.
If you were involved in an accident while on the job or suffered a work-related illness, you need the help of a passionate and skillful lawyer to get the benefits you need to get back on your feet. Pacific Workers', The Lawyers for Injured Workers, is here to help. As Bay Area workers compensation attorneys, we represent injured workers throughout Northern California. Call (800) 606-6999 for a free consultation today.