After a work injury, workers may feel impatient about obtaining workers’ compensation benefits, and for good reason. However, your initial claim may be rejected, forcing you to appeal if you want to have a chance of receiving benefits.
Below, learn more about how long this process might take and what to expect along the way. The Fresno workers’ compensation attorneys of Berry, Smith & Bartell help injured workers pursue benefits. If you were injured on the job, contact us to schedule a free, no obligation consultation.
The workers’ compensation appeals process has many possible stages. This process could take anywhere from a few weeks to several months or more.
If your claim was denied or, you were unable to reach a settlement with your workers’ compensation claims administrator, you have one year from the date of the injury, the date medical treatment stopped or the last day you received workers’ compensation benefits to file an application for adjudication with the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB).
Your employer may file an answer to your application within 10 days. Once both sides are prepared for a hearing, a Declaration of Readiness is filed by each side. However, both parties must attempt to reach a settlement before a hearing can be held.
Within 30 days of the declarations being filed, a mandatory settlement conference will be scheduled. The judge presiding over this conference has authority to issue a ruling on the matter or approve a settlement.
If the settlement conference is unsuccessful, a contested hearing will be scheduled within 75 days of the filing of the Declaration of Readiness. The judge will make a decision within 30 days of the end of the contested hearing.
If your claim gets to this point, it may have already taken a few months, at the least.
If you wish to appeal the judge’s decision, you must file a Petition for Reconsideration within 20 days from the date you receive the decision. In your Petition for Reconsideration, you must list your reasons for appealing the decision and the issues you have with it, and an explanation of why you disagree with the decision made by the judge. Include any new evidence that could not be discovered before your original claim was filed.
The WCAB has 60 days to accept or deny your appeal. If nothing is done within 60 days, you can consider your petition denied.
If the WCAB accepts your petition, the board will decide whether to accept or reject your appeal or amend the previous decision. If you offered new evidence, a hearing will most likely be set for review, and a decision will be mailed to you after the hearing.
This stage of the process could add another month to your appeal.
If you disagree with this decision, you may request a writ of review with the state appellate court. You must do so within 45 days of the decision. The appellate court only considers if the appeals board made a reasonable decision based on the facts of the claim. It is rare for appeals board decisions to be overturned in this phase.
The last option for an appeal is to file an appeal with the California Supreme Court. However, this court rarely decides to hear workers’ compensation appeals. Even if it does agree to hear your case, it could take months before you are ever in a courtroom.
There is not much-injured workers can do to speed up the workers’ compensation process, but it is best to report your injury as soon as possible so your claim may be started.
Unfortunately, there can be delays in the process that are completely out of your control. The workers’ compensation adjuster may order a Qualified Medical Evaluator (QME) Panel. It may take 60 to 90 days for a panel to be established and up to 120 days for a deposition to occur. The QME is also given 30 days to issue an initial report and 60 days to issue a supplemental report.
Do you have questions about the appeals process?
Call the trusted legal team at Berry, Smith & Bartell to discuss your claim and how we may be able to assist you throughout the process. We pursue fair compensation for workers who suffered injuries covered by California’s workers’ compensation system.
If you were injured at work, request a free, no-obligation consultation with our legal team today. There are no upfront fees and payment is only owed if we recover compensation on your behalf.