As many Michigan workers have learned, workers’ compensation claims can be time-consuming. According to the United States Department of Labor, they issue a decision for the average Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) claim within 90 days. However, this only applies to federal employees, and it does not necessarily reflect how long claims will take to be completely resolved by all workers’ compensation authorities. For injured workers, the overall process is often complex, and the claim may stay open for a considerable length of time. Workers often struggle with delays, uncertainty, appeals, and many other common symptoms of bureaucracy. Faced with these issues, many workers wonder about the maximum amount of time workers’ compensation claims may stay open. The answer depends on several factors, as each worker’s situation may be slightly different. To receive accurate advice for your particular situation, speak with an experienced Michigan workers’ compensation attorney. Call (734) 485-0535 today to book a consultation with Bruce L. Weider, PC.
Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) is a key factor to consider as employees approach their workers’ compensation claims. As the name suggests, MMI represents the moment at which the injuries of a patient stop improving. At this point, healthcare providers accept that they have done all they can. However, they may still continue to provide care in order to prevent the patient’s condition from regressing.
A worker might break their leg after a fall at a construction site. The worker may receive various forms of treatment after the injury, including surgery or implants. They might also have their leg placed in a cast. After six to eight weeks, the worker may remove the cast and attempt to resume normal work-related duties. However, they may continue to experience discomfort, and they might also start walking with a limp. Further rehabilitation may be required at this point over an additional six-month period. At the end of this period, healthcare providers may conclude that the patient will always walk with a slight limp, and that the worker should expect continued discomfort after strenuous activity. At this point, the worker will have reached MMI, with the attendant assumption that their condition will continue to exist throughout the rest of their life.
In many cases, it may not make sense to finalize workers’ compensation claims until after workers have reached MMI. This is because it is impossible to determine the true cost of injuries until workers understand the full extent of these injuries and how their symptoms may impact their future earning potential and quality of life. Generally speaking, workers can expect to finalize their workers’ comp claims a few weeks after MMI has been reached. Negotiations may be necessary at this point, and an experienced Michigan workers’ compensation attorney with Bruce L. Weider, PC may be able to assist with these negotiations.
While this might provide some idea of the time limits associated with workers’ compensation claims, the healing process depends entirely on the nature and extent of the injury. Sometimes, injuries take years to fully heal – and workers may need to keep claims open during the entire healing process to ensure best results.
What Is the Longest Someone Can Be on Workers’ Comp?
According to the Michigan Workers’ Disability Compensation Agency, weekly benefits will continue for as long as the disability exists. In other words, many workers will continue to receive these permanent disability benefits for the rest of their lives. However, workers who are only partially disabled have a legal responsibility to seek out reasonable work opportunities as they receive their benefits. Continuing with the above example, a construction worker with a broken leg that never properly healed may still have the opportunity to work in an excavator or a crane.
According to the Michigan Legislature, employees must file workers’ compensation claims within two years of the injury. For family members filing on behalf of deceased workers, this statute of limitations is also two years. If the two-year period expires, the opportunity to file a claim may be closed forever, without ever being opened. However, this time limit only begins after workers become aware of their injuries. Depending on the injury or work-related illness, this awareness may not occur until some time after the initial damage has been sustained. A worker exposed to asbestos may only receive a cancer diagnosis decades after initial exposure at the job site. In this case, the two-year time limit begins at the time of diagnosis, not the initial exposure.
With all that said, it is important to note that Michigan has no statute of limitations that prevents workers from reopening closed workers’ compensation claims. This claim might involve a previous injury, and workers may wish to have these claims re-examined. The only requirement is that workers show that the injury is legitimate and work-related. While there may be certain time limits associated with workers’ comp claims, a closed claim is not necessarily finalized.
According to the Michigan Workers’ Disability Compensation Agency, there is no waiting period for medical benefits. Coverage must begin at the time of the injury. However, there is a 7-day waiting period for wage loss benefit payments. On the eighth day, the worker is entitled to these benefits. If the disability lasts for two weeks or more, the worker receives compensation for the first week immediately after the injury. This 7-day waiting period may also apply to paid medical leave. Employees should receive their first payment on the 14th day of their disability, but employers can technically avoid consequences as long as they pay the first check within 30 days of this due date. This means that in theory, employers can wait approximately six weeks before issuing the first payment.
Time limits may vary from worker to worker, and internet research can only provide a certain amount of generalized information about workers’ compensation claims. Workers concerned about the best way to pursue their workers’ compensation claims may wish to speak with experienced Michigan workers’ compensation attorneys to receive more specific, targeted advice based on their unique circumstances. During a consultation with Bruce L. Weider, PC, workers can ask questions about time limits and other limitations. Call (734) 485-0535 today to book a consultation and approach the workers’ compensation program with measured efficiency.