It’s bad enough to be injured on the job, to be dealing with doctors’ offices and procedures, pain and discomfort, to be wondering how to pay bills on a reduced income (worker’s compensation benefits in Nebraska are generally 2/3 the amount of a regular paycheck). But to then have your benefit check not appear in your mailbox or in your bank account as expected? To have to worry even about paying for food, bills, and the mortgage or rent on time? That is the last thing an injured worker needs.
Sometimes the delay is not the fault of the insurance company:
- Mail can be delayed due to bad weather or holidays.
- The adjuster may be missing essential medical records or reports.
- Poor work restrictions may need to be explained or amended.
- Your treating doctor may have placed you at maximum medical improvement.
- Your employer may have offered light duty work.
- Benefits may have expired due to state law.
Sometimes the delay is due to errors from the insurance company:
- Many insurance companies have computer programs that automatically eliminate payees from the system if not manually updated by the adjuster for the claim.
- Other computer glitches are not uncommon.
Or just incompetence:
- Adjusters can be inexperienced or have too large of a workload to reasonably manage.
- The adjuster may be on vacation, and no one is taking care of your claim.
- Files transferred from one adjuster to another often lead to delays.
The delay can also be intentional. The insurance company may no longer believe that your injury occurred at work, or that you were injured at all.
So what can you do about it?
First of all, notify the adjuster – preferably in writing or email – that your check is late. If the delay is due to an error on the insurance company’s part, the adjuster should issue the check immediately.
If the check has already been issued but does not show to your home, the adjuster should issue a stop payment for the lost check and reissue a new check.
It is important to notify the adjuster that your check is late, because if your check does not appear within 30 days from the date of notification, and there is no reasonable basis for the delay, you may be entitled to a 50% penalty. It is a good idea to notify the adjuster of the delay by email so that you will have proof of the date of notification to fulfill the notice requirement of the law.
It is often advisable to consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to ensure that penalties are paid, and to facilitate the swift delivery of benefit checks. The attorney can also make sure that your claim is accepted, your benefits have been calculated correctly, and to negotiate a lump sum settlement if appropriate.