Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Delays in Workers Comp cases

Previously I've mentioned about the delays to obtain a hearing in Social Security cases. But that situation is simply a matter of waiting for a hearing date and sprucing up the case for the hearing. In workers compensation the delays are varied depending on the case. Cases seldom proceed in a straight line or so it seems to me. One delay is when the claim is contested. This alone can take a hearing. Another delay can be with medical treatment. Sometimes the treatment is not thorough and yet unless there is a change of doctors (which also can lead to delay) the claimant has to go to a separate examination (called a DIME and mentioned previously). This also can take more then two months to arrange and even more time to wait for the results and still more time to await the insurers response. Sometimes further medical treatment is deemed needed and this is delayed until sometime after the DIME evaluation. Surgery adds still more months to the process and that is assuming it all goes smoothly. If the insurer disputes the need for surgery or other treatment it can take another hearing. Many cases often seem to take two years or more to wrap up if you are intent on protecting the rights of the claimant. I can say that most delays are based on medical issues or treatment. With medical care there is no certain timeline for recovery. Asking your lawyer when all this will be finished is often met with vague answers but the reason is simple: the legal matters cannot be finished until all appropriate medical treatment and conclusions are provided. If you wish to get it all over with sooner then you also must waive all further rights and benefits for a cash settlement. Such a settlement is seldom wise and often impossible to fairly analyze. While cases can be settled it is rare to try to do so until all the steps have been taken both medically and legally. Again this means delay. Imagine deciding you have to settle your case and move on with your life. You do so for quick cash and give up all your rights. Then you seek to return to work but find out you can no longer do your trade. You also find out that your back injury acts up on you but no one will pay for further treatment. By then you figure you made a mistake but its too late. By settling too soon there is no do over...its just done. So workers comp delays are terrible because your life is on hold but better to protect yourself before you are cut loose without anything further. In fact in some cases you are never finished. Your injury or complications from it can mean there is a need for lifetime medical care. From the time I take a case to the end of it usually takes from one to two years. There are exceptions where it is just a few months on the short side to well over two years on the long side.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, when everyone else but a competent physician practices medicine, the patient often misses a window of opportunity to treat in a timely manner optimizing outcome. A failure of "the system". Those of us who practice competent medicine walk around with out hands tied to do the best for the patient after all the years of goes on and on.