How Long Does Workmans Comp Usually Take?


Lisa Allen

A reader reached out with this question: “How long does it usually take for a person to get workmans comp?” The shortest, quickest answer is: It depends on where you live.

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Not the answer most people want to hear, we know. But it’s the truth. The amount of time it takes to collect workmans comp (a.k.a. workers’ compensation or workers’ comp) varies, in part, on:

  • How you got your injury or illness
  • When you file your claim
  • The state where you work
  • What type of work you do
  • How much money you make (since that’s how they calculate lost-wage payments)
  • What type of work injury you have

While every case is different, the information below applies generally to all workmans comp situations. It can be helpful in understanding why it’s impossible to say exactly how long it will take to get your benefits.

Which Factors Matter for Workmans Comp?

The first, and arguably most important, thing you have to realize is that workmans comp laws vary by state. This means that a case in New Jersey with the same specifics as a case in Michigan might proceed differently because the laws of each state are different. Statutes of limitations vary by state, as are filing requirements. Understanding your state’s specific laws can determine whether your case is successful. And if so, those laws also decide how much your settlement pays out.

That said, there are some elements of workmans comp cases that are pretty consistent, regardless of where you file your claim. For instance, in most cases, you must report your injury or illness within 30 days. It’s also true that for most successful claims, your employer’s insurance company must start making payments within 14-30 days after approval. However, those payments only apply once you miss a specified number of workdays because of your injury or illness.

The fact that these differences are so confusing is why you may benefit from talking with an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney who specializes in workmans comp will know the particulars of your state’s laws and timeframes. Plus, an attorney can help you understand how those laws and requirements apply to your situation.

Is Workmans Comp Worth Pursuing?

It’s not uncommon for someone to suffer an injury or illness because of their job. In fact, in 2021, 2.5 million people went to the ER for work-related injuries. The most common of those include slip-and-fall injuries, muscle strains/sprains/tears, and over-exertion. In 2020, approximately 16 people died in the workplace every day in America. That number was 38 per day back in 1970.

The average workmans comp settlement varies depending on several factors, including the state in which you file, your employer, the type of work you do and how much you’re compensated for that work, and the injury or illness you suffered.

In 2019, the average workmans comp settlement was approximately $42,000. But this number can vary widely depending on a number of factors.

An important thing to consider is that settlements can be higher when filed by an experienced attorney. Working with someone well-versed in the laws of your state means they understand how and when to file the appropriate paperwork. This is all vital because not knowing the ins and outs of the system can cost you time, energy, and money. So can procrastinating. It’s imperative to report your injury or illness as early as possible and to seek medical attention immediately.

You should also keep meticulous records and be honest and forthcoming with both your doctors and your attorney. Learn more about other ways to prepare for a free consultation with your workers’ compensation lawyer.

Is It Worth Talking to an Attorney?

Every workmans comp case is unique and complicated in its own way. Unless you have prior experience, consulting an attorney who understands your state’s laws can benefit you.

Of course, not every case is worth pursuing. A knowledgeable, reliable attorney will be honest about whether you may have a strong case.

If your concern is finances, it’s wise to remember that our workers’ comp attorneys work on contingency. This means you pay nothing out of pocket and only incur fees once you get a payout.

Ready to see if you may qualify? Complete your free online workers’ compensation case evaluation now!

Lisa Allen

Lisa Allen is a writer and editor who lives in suburban Kansas City. She holds MFAs in Creative Nonfiction and Poetry, both from the Solstice Low-Residency Program in Creative Writing at Pine Manor College. Prior to becoming a writer, Lisa worked as a paralegal, where she specialized in real estate in and around Chicago.