What to Do When Your Workman's 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 Employer
Before you do anything else, you are going to want to talk to your employer. Explain that you need answers and a plan to get you the money you deserve while keeping your job. Remember, as an employee, your employer is legally required to make every reasonable effort to help you. Ask what you can do to keep your job while getting paid and keep your employer from being liable for your injuries.
Step 2: Contact a Workers' Compensation Attorney
Now that you've talked to your employer, it's time to call a workers' comp attorney to help you handle your claim. Your attorney will help you appeal and explain your case to your employer and help you get the proper benefits to live with your injuries.
Step 3: Talk to a Healthcare Provider
You should also talk to your health care provider to see if they can help you get proper treatment while waiting for your claim and benefits approval. Ideally, you will be able to get the treatment you need without having to wait for the insurance company to approve it.
Step 4: File a Complaint
If the delay of your payment continues, it is probably time to file a complaint with your state's workers' comp system. If your state is one of the 14 states that allows a complaint to be filed before claims are settled, you can do so. Be sure to request your state’s complaint form and read it carefully. Your state's workers' comp insurance company will be required to respond to the complaint.
Step 5: Go to Court
If your employer's workers' comp insurance company is continuing to delay payment, you may want to go to court to get what you deserve. This is where you will want to call your attorney. Remember, you will want to be sure to follow your state's laws so that you can go to court the right way.
Step 6: Negotiate a Settlement
Another strategy you can use to get your WC insurance company to pay you faster is to negotiate a settlement. This will depend on your specific injury and situation. You can also get help from a lawyer to negotiate 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.