California requires businesses, nonprofits, and public employers to provide no-fault workers’ comp coverage to their employees (California Labor Code § 3700). If you are hurt on the job, you have the right to seek workers’ compensation to cover medical care and lost wages. You do not have to prove your employer was “at fault” to get compensation.
This raises an important question: How long does it take to get a workers’ comp settlement in California? The somewhat unsatisfying answer is that there is no true “average” timeline—the specific facts of the case always matter. Here, our Fresno workers’ comp attorney highlights the key things to know about how long it takes workers’ compensation claims to settle in California.
Work Injury Claims in California: A Basic Overview of the Timeline
If you are preparing to file a workers’ compensation claim in California (or you have already filed), you probably want to know how long it will take before your claim is paid. The length of the process can vary dramatically—from a few weeks if there is no dispute to multiple years if you end up locked in litigation. A general overview of the workers’ comp timeline in California is as follows:
- Medical Treatment for an Injury, Illness, or Impairment: You cannot file for workers’ comp benefits in California unless you seek professional medical treatment for your injury, illness, or other medical impairment. You must seek medical care and report your injury/illness to your employer.
- File Your Workers’ Comp Claim (DWC-1): When you tell your supervisor/employer that you were injured or made ill on the job, they are supposed to provide you with a form called a DWC-1. This is the workers’ comp claims form. Seeking medical care for a work-related injury and telling your employer is not the same thing as filing a claim. You must complete and submit DWC-1. If you have any questions about doing so, a Fresno workers’ comp lawyer can help.
- Await the Initial Decision on Your Claim: Once an employer—and its claims administrator/insurer—receives the DWC-1, the process truly begins to move forward. In California, an employer has 14 days from the date it receives a workers’ DWC-1 form to respond. They have three options: Accept your claim, delay your claim, or deny your claim. If they choose to delay making a decision, the employer will have an additional 90 days to investigate the matter. At the end of those 90 days, they must accept or reject your claim.
- Challenge a Denial (Settlement Negotiations May Ensue): Was your workers’ comp claim denied? You have a right to challenge the denial and appeal the decision. Your employer does not get to make the final determination on your benefits. How long the appeals process will take varies widely—though, in many cases, these claims can still be settled.
Call Our California Workers’ Comp Lawyer for Immediate Help
Joseph C. Yrulegui is an experienced, effective California workers’ compensation attorney. If you were hurt on the job and you are seeking a workers’ comp settlement, Mr. Yrulegui can help. Contact us today for a confidential no obligation review and evaluation of your case. With a primary office in Fresno, we provide work injury representation throughout the area, including in Merced, Madera, Chowchilla, Leemore, Tulare, Visalia, and Three Rivers.