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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.

A man in a cast fills out a form to know how long can a workers comp 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 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