How Long Will My Workers Comp Case Take?

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How Long Will My Workers' Comp Case Take?

Understanding the Timeline of Your Workers' Comp Claim

When you're dealing with a workers' comp claim, one of the biggest questions is: how long will it take? The short answer is that the average case can take anywhere from 6 to 18 months. However, this range can vary significantly based on the specifics of your injury and claim. Some cases are resolved in weeks, while others can drag on for years. To give you a clearer picture, let's break down the timeline and process of a workers' comp claim, and explore some common reasons for delays.

Filing Your Claim

The timeline for filing your workers' comp claim largely depends on you. In New York, you have up to two years from the date of your accident to file your claim. However, it's advisable to file as soon as possible. Delaying your filing can make it seem like your injury isn’t severe, complicating the process.

Once you notify your employer of the accident, they have 14 days to inform their insurance carrier. The insurance carrier then has 18 days to start paying you benefits, assuming your claim isn't denied. In some cases, the insurance company may pay you voluntarily before you even file your claim to expedite the process.

If your claim is denied, the insurance company must report this to the Workers' Compensation Board, which will then schedule a hearing within 1-3 months. This denial can add several weeks or months to your claim process.

Reaching a Settlement

Most workers' comp cases eventually end in a settlement, often as a lump sum. Settlements can occur at any point and can vary in speed depending on several factors:

  • Quick Settlements: These are often undervalued and occur when:
    • You opt out of surgery
    • The insurance company prefers to avoid litigation
    • You need immediate funds
    • You have a weak case
    • You accept a low offer from the insurance company
  • Fast Settlements: often referred to as "nuisance value," are typically less than $5,000 and can be offered within weeks or a few months.
  • Slower Settlements: Most settlements take longer because they usually occur after you reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). MMI is when your condition stabilizes, and further treatment is unlikely to significantly improve your health. This is crucial as it determines the true value of your case, including future medical needs, disability rating, and impact on earning capacity.
  • The timeline to reach MMI varies:
    • Extremity Injuries: Typically take about a year.
    • Spinal, Cardiac, Pulmonary, or Brain Injuries: Can take up to two years.
    • Additional Surgeries: Restart the clock, often adding another year.

Once you reach MMI, the settlement negotiation and finalization process can begin. This phase can take about 4 months on average, though it can vary based on the responsiveness of the insurance company.

Common Delays in the Process

Several factors can delay your workers' comp claim:

  • Filing Delays: Waiting too long to file can complicate your claim.
  • Claim Denials: A denial adds weeks or months to your timeline.
  • Multiple Surgeries: Each new surgery extends the timeline.
  • Slow Insurance Responses: Some insurers drag their feet during negotiations.
  • Lack of Participation: Missing hearings or not following your lawyer's advice can cause delays.
  • Appeals: Although faster than before, appeals still add a few months to the process.
  • Permanent Disability Trials: These can take several months due to depositions and court schedules.

To minimize delays, actively participate in your claim, follow your lawyer’s advice, and ensure all necessary documentation is submitted promptly.


Understanding the workers' comp claim timeline can help set realistic expectations and reduce anxiety. If you're in New York and need guidance, my law firm is currently accepting new clients. With 17 years of experience, I can help move your case as quickly as possible. For a free consultation, call 212-406-8989. Our discussion is confidential and could significantly increase your benefits.

For more tips on avoiding common pitfalls in workers' comp claims, check out my video, "10 Workers Comp Misconceptions That Cost You Money." Click here to watch, and I’ll see you there!

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