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Reporting delays tied to higher workers comp claim costs

Reporting delays tied to higher workers comp claim costs

Delays in reporting work-related injuries can cause workers compensation claim costs to increase by up to 51%, according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance Inc.

Claim costs for occupational injuries reported between one to two weeks after the date of an accident represented the lowest median cost at $13,210 per claim, Boca Raton, Florida-based NCCI said in a report released Tuesday. Injuries reported between one day and one week after an accident resulted in the second lowest average cost per claim at $13,844.

NCCI found that claims in which workers waited three weeks to report an accident cost $17,785 on average, while those waiting four weeks cost $19,936 per average claim — the highest cost of any time frame in the study and a nearly 51% increase from the one- to two-week time frame.

“Claims with more than a two-week delay in reporting are characterized by a lower medical share of total cost, greater attorney involvement, more use of lump-sum payments… and a lower closure rate at 18 months,” the report reads. “These characteristics suggest that claims with a delay of more than two weeks are more complex to settle, take longer to close, and involve a longer period before the injured worker can return to work.”

Claims in which a worker's injury was reported on the day of the accident had an average cost of $17,298 per claim, according to NCCI. The study said immediate reporting likely reflected higher costs because such claims tended to have “very severe injuries that require immediate medical attention,” as well as require extensive medical care and extended recovery times.

Claims that were delayed by more than four weeks had an average cost of $19,251, NCCI said.

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