The length of time you have to file a workers’ compensation claim after sustaining an on-the-job injury or developing a work-related illness depends on the state in which you live. Why? Because work comp is a state benefit program, and laws, rules and regulations vary widely from state to state.
Filing Time Limits
Most states require you (or your employer, depending on state law) to file your work claim within one to three years after your injury or the onset of your illness. Other states, including the following, have a considerably longer filing deadline:
- Hawaii – five years
- Idaho – no limit
- Massachusetts – four years
- Minnesota – six years
On the other hand, some states, including the following, allow you considerably less time:
- Kansas – 200 days
- Nevada – 90 days
- Vermont – six months
- Wyoming – one year
Reporting Time Limits
Keep in mind that virtually all states require you to report your illness or injury to your employer well before actually filing your work comp claim. Here again, how soon you must do this depends on the laws of your state. Most states give you a very narrow window of opportunity, often as few as three, four or five business days. Other states require you to report “as soon as possible,” but may not specify precisely what this means.
Virtually all states, however, have exceptions to their reporting and filing deadlines. Typical exceptions include the following:
- You did not learn about your illness until after the deadline.
- You sustained a severe injury, such as a serious burn, that required your immediate and prolonged treatment.
- You had to be quarantined due to your illness or injury.
- You were diagnosed with an occupational disease, such as asbestosis or mesothelioma, years after your initial exposure to the asbestos or other hazardous material or substance.
- You sustained a cumulative injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or other repetitive stress injury.
- What you originally thought was a minor inconsequential injury for which you did not file a work comp claim got worse over time. The classic example here is a “bump on the head” that actually was a traumatic brain injury.
Obtaining Legal Help
Unfortunately, the workers’ compensation rules and regulations in your state can be complicated and difficult to understand. Your wisest strategy, therefore, is to consult with an experienced local workers’ compensation lawyer any time you sustain an on-the-job injury or develop a work-related illness. He or she can guide you through the entire process from beginning to end, and possibly can get you more compensation than if you try to do everything yourself. If you have questions about a workers compensation case contact a workers compensation attorney, like the offices of Hurwitz, Whitcher & Molloy, Attorneys at Law for a consultation.