It is natural to wonder how long your workers compensation case will take but it is just not an easy question to answer. However, I can shed some light on why some cases are relatively fast and some take longer.
To begin, no case can begin until the injured employee has been released from their doctor. As such, in general the more serious the injury the longer it will take for the "case" to begin. Once the treatment has been completed, your lawyer can move forward with the case. When we began we first obtain the medical impairment rating and determine if an independent doctor's opinion should be obtained. Once that has been completed we will set the case for a benefit review conference at the Tennessee Department of Labor. A benefit review conference is basically a mediation where the parties attempt to resolve the case before litigation. However, if the case can't be resolved then a lawsuit can be filed.
After a lawsuit is filed and served the employer will have thirty days to answer. The parties then usually trade written questions called interrogatories. This will take at least thirty days. Then depositions will be taken of the witnesses and the medical providers. If necessary, the parties will disclose experts and take the depositions of the experts. The most common experts in workers compensation cases are vocational disability experts and medical experts. Now the case is ready to be set for trial. Depending on the county and how busy the judge is will determine when the case can be set for trial.
Okay, so now you know what is basically involved in preparing a workers compensation case for trial. What is important is to have a lawyer that doesn't rush your case to the point it is not properly prepared but you also don't want a lawyer that doesn't move your case along at a reasonable pass. In my experience if a case is pursued properly it can be ready for trial as early as nine months or well over a year. It really just depends on what has to be done to have the case ready to present it properly to the judge so you can obtain the maximum benefits under the Tennessee Workers Compensation Act.