How Long Can a Workers Comp Claim Stay Open?

Whether you’re a CEO of a large corporation or a business owner of a newly established company, it’s important that you know the answer to the question, “how long can a workers comp claim stay open?” While some plans allow for claims to stay open indefinitely, it is in most cases more beneficial to keep the process short and quick.

Employers at companies of all sizes are legally required to have policies in place to make sure their workplaces are safe for their employees. But regardless of how well safety protocols are taken, accidents still happen. For these situations, businesses are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance—also known as workers comp—to aid employees who are hurt on the job. 

Below, we dive into some of the most important things to know about how workers comp claims are handled and answer any questions on how long can an insurance claim stay open.

How Long Can a Workers Comp Claim Stay Open? The Basics

Before we can answer the question “How long can a workers comp claim stay open?”, it is important to review the basics of workers’ compensation so that you can make well-informed decisions for your business. 

What is Workers Compensation?

Workers compensation insurance provides medical assistance to employees who have been injured or who have fallen ill in the workplace. These provisions can include coverage of the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Ongoing care 
  • Funeral expenses 

How Does Workers Compensation Work?

Workers compensation is meant to protect both the employer and the employee should an employee be injured on the job. Although it is a federal program, each state has its own set of rules and regulations so that proper coverage is provided. 

Employees who file a claim for workers compensation insurance can only do so if their injury or illness occurs in the workplace. Common examples of workplace injuries include slipping or falling, straining the body from lifting a heavy object, or injuring oneself while operating machinery. 

How is the Cost of Workers Compensation Determined?

Workers compensation costs are determined by how similar businesses in each state follow injury patterns and losses. Combined into “classes,” businesses are provided with rates based on the prior five years of costs due to injury. 

A system called “experience rating” allows for some businesses who have a long history of safety in the workplace to pay lower premiums. Those businesses who have a history of injury in the workplace are considered “unsafe businesses” and are required to pay higher premiums.

What Businesses Need to Carry Workers Compensation Insurance?

Businesses in all states are required to provide their employees with workers compensation coverage. 

Employers who do not provide workers compensation coverage can experience costly repercussions, including paying claims out of pocket, receiving fines, and in serious cases, possibly facing imprisonment. In most cases, they lose the right to conduct business in the state.

How Long Can a Workers’ Comp Case Stay Open: Best Practices

 In the interest of both keeping your employees happy as well as closing these cases as quickly as possible, there are some best practices regarding workman’s comp cases that will prevent you from asking, “how long does a workman’s comp case stay open?”

Educate Your Team

An employee should never have to resort to external resources when asking questions like “how long can a workers’ comp case stay open?” Investing heavily in employee education and training regarding administrative procedures such as these will go a long way in saving your company time, as well as preventing any potential misunderstandings or mistakes during the processes. Employees should receive the training necessary to properly report injury cases to the correct parties, know which cases to report and when, and how to follow up on these cases accordingly. 

Invest in Human Resources

For some businesses, particularly smaller ones, it may seem tempting to save money by investing lightly in human resources. Neglecting this aspect of your business may lead you to lose money in the long run when managers and employees alike are stuck asking  simple questions like, “how long does a workers comp claim stay open?” 

If your business doesn’t have the means necessary to invest in a dedicated human resources department, consider outsourcing your HR services. Canal HR has a reputation for supplying adept and reliable human resources services to hundreds of businesses, saving them both time and money when caring for their employees. 

Plan Ahead

To avoid asking yourself, “how long does a workman’s comp case stay open,” planning ahead of time and creating processes for workman’s comp claims will save time, money, and headaches when dealing with unforeseen circumstances caused by workplace incidents or employee injury. Preventing confusion with the implementation of concrete processes helps create a more healthy environment for employees looking to receive compensation for their time away from work. 

Remain Flexible

As important as it is to implement comprehensive workman’s comp processes in the workplace, businesses must remain flexible and ready to deal with any unforeseen circumstances that may arise regarding workplace injury. As a business, you may want to urge your employees to return to work as soon as they are physically able- and you should. When doing this, however, it’s important that you keep your employees’ well-being in mind and offer flexible plans of return including lighter workloads, shorter days, or other accommodation options that will help them re-acclimate themselves to the workplace after an extended absence. 

Prepare to Make the Tough Decisions

Businesses should always do anything they can to aid a worker that has been injured at the workplace. Among legal and wellness-related reasons, maintaining a generous workman’s comp policy will go a long way in employee retention and creating a positive workplace culture. In maintaining these policies, however, it’s best that your business be prepared to make tough decisions. There are employees that will take advantage of workman’s comp policies, and it’s important to prepare for these circumstances- this is where the implementation of concrete rules and policies regarding these claims becomes necessary. 

How Long Can a Workers Comp Claim Stay Open? Closing the Claim Quickly 

Though each state has their own state-specific requirements for workers compensation, laws require that an employee file a claim for benefits within a certain amount of time following the injury or accident. There are two important deadlines to meet:

  • In most cases, an employee has within one year from the time of the injury to file for benefits.
  • An employee must notify their employer within 30–45 days of being injured or they may lose the right to file a workers comp claim.

Once the claim is opened, employees and employers usually ask themselves how long can a workers comp claim stay open. There are two routes to take. Some workers compensation plans stay open indefinitely. In this case, the insurance provider pays for future medical bills related to the initial injury if they arise.

However, it is in most cases more beneficial to close the claim sooner rather than later. It’s often the case that employees can settle with the insurance provider on a lump sum of money to close the claim, referred to as a stipulated agreement

It is a great advantage to the employee to receive a sum of money provided by the insurance carrier. More often than not, this sum of money amounts to greater benefits received, and closing quickly can avoid excessive paperwork.

a woman and a man shake hands after discussing how long can a workers comp claim stay open

How Canal HR’s Workers Comp Plan Keeps Employees Safe and Costs Low

Canal HR has a reputation for being a regional leader in developing workers comp policies that keep company costs low. As a professional employer organization, Canal HR can help take the pressures of employer risk and workers comp policies off your shoulders so that you can spend more time on running your business and serving your customers. We help answer common questions like, “how long can a workers comp claim stay open?”

Here are some of the workers’ comp and risk management services Canal HR experts provide: 

  • Eliminating workers’ compensation down payments
  • Negotiating and obtaining workers’ compensation insurance coverage
  • Investigating fraud
  • Eliminating workers’ compensation audit and audit premium
  • Performing risk management safety inspections
  • Providing periodic safety training
  • Processing and managing workers’ compensation claims
  • Handling workers’ compensation hearings
  • Maintaining OSHA logs
  • Coordinating a return-to-work program

By working with Canal HR, you will have a team of workers comp specialists to help you keep your employees safe, your costs low, and your business thriving. To speak with us about workers’ compensation plans or other services that we provide, contact us today