How long does a workers compensation settlement take depends on several factors. The most important factor is whether the work-related injury is temporary or permanent. If an injury is temporary, meaning the injured worker healed with no permanent injury then there is usually no settlement to speak of. If the employee missed work, he or she is paid worker’s compensation, called temporary total disability (TTD) in Wisconsin, while in the period of healing. There would only be a settlement if the insurance company denied paying TTD, the injured worker makes a claim for it and they settle after the worker returns to work.
Most settlements involve work injuries in which the treating doctor or surgeons states there is some percentage of permanent partial disability (PPD). In a permanent injury claim, no legitimate case can be made for settlement until the injured worker has reached an end of healing or healing plateau, the moment when the treating doctor assigns a PPD%. If it’s a relatively small PPD to a body part that does not impair the worker’s ability to return to work, the workers compensation settlement could take a few months after the end of healing. In such a case, most do not involve an attorney or filing for a hearing before the Wisconsin Department of Workers’ Compensation.
In cases where an injured worker has permanent physical or mental work restrictions in addition to a PPD percentage, and the permanent restrictions prevent the employee from returning to work, he or she may have a much larger claim that could take more than a year rather than months to settle. The surgeon usually will not assign and end of healing until 6 to 12 months after a surgery. There is often physical therapy and possibly work hardening. The final PT evaluation may involve a functional capacity evaluation (FCE) in which the injured employee is tested and physical capacity recommendations are made by the PT to the doctor. The doctor then adopts or changes the permanent restrictions as he or she sees fit. After permanent work restrictions are determined, at McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, our attorneys take the extra step of having the injured worker evaluated by a vocational expert. The vocational expert will then determine if the injured worker has a loss of earning capacity because the permanent work restrictions prevent a return to work at the same wage rate as before the work injury. In Wisconsin, if the worker cannot return to his or her employer at about 85% of pre-accident wages, there is a loss of earning capacity claim or retraining claim. A referral to DVR takes additional time.