When an Arizona employee gets hurt on the job, they can usually file for workers’ compensation benefits to cover the financial losses related to their injuries, such as medical expenses and lost earnings. While these benefits should be paid promptly to prevent workers from facing undue financial hardships, sometimes legitimate claims get caught up in the system’s red tape. So, why do workers’ compensation claims take so long?
There’s no one answer. But the application process is complex, full of deadlines and paperwork that must be completed correctly before any payouts are made. A minor clerical error can cause a setback. So could a stubborn insurance company.
Any holdup can be frustrating as medical bills grow and your income dries up. Here, the workers’ compensation attorneys at Matt Fendon Law Group discuss the common obstacles that can delay a worker’s compensation claim.
Timeline For a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Arizona
The actual timeline for a workers’ compensation claim varies. Generally speaking, if you suffer a workplace injury in Arizona, you must immediately report the incident to your employer or supervisor. Failure to do so could result in delayed or denied benefits.
In addition, Arizona law gives you only one year from the date of the accident to file a claim. Miss the deadline and your claim for benefits will most likely be denied. You will file a Worker’s Report of Injury form with the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) to initiate your claim.
Within 14 days, you should receive a Notice of Claim Status in the mail from the ICA. This letter will inform you of whether your claim was denied or approved. If approved, it will include and the amount of your wage-replacement benefits.
If you receive a denial, reduction, or termination of benefits, contact a workers’ compensation attorney right away to discuss appealing the decision. You only have 90 days to dispute the denial. You’ll want to give your lawyer plenty of time to build a strong case.
What’s Delaying my Workers’ Comp Claim?
There are numerous reasons why your workers’ compensation claim could be delayed, including:
- Reluctance to pay: Insurance companies are for-profit entities. A fair payout is not at the top of their list of priorities. You may find them requesting extra information, an independent medical exam, or making unreasonable demands as they search for reasons to deny your claim.
- Physician reporting: Your doctor may not provide the insurer with medical documents that are essential for your claim to get resolved. When a claimant is seeking a workers’ compensation settlement, this delay may be beneficial because you shouldn’t settle until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), or the point where your doctor believes you have recovered as much as possible from your injuries.
- Bureaucratic procedures: Workers’ compensation cases can get held up in the legal system, often due to a lack of resources and a huge influx of appeals from legitimate claimants who received denials.
- Fraud: Unfortunately, fraud happens in workers’ compensation cases. Insurance companies review every claim thoroughly, searching for cases of claimants who fraudulently report injuries. This also causes valid claims to get held up in the system.
- Understaffing: When insurance companies are understaffed and overworked, workers’ compensation claims can drag on until an insurance agent can review them.
Speed Up Your Claim by Hiring a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Hurt at work in Arizona? You very likely deserve workers’ compensation benefits while you heal. You can improve your chances of receiving timely benefits with the help of a skilled workers’ compensation attorney. At the Matt Fendon Law Group, our attorneys are knowledgeable advocates who know where claims typically get held up. We’ll work to expedite your claim by avoiding common obstacles that claimants face when applying alone. Contact us today for a free consultation.