Time Limits for Worker’s Compensation
By Sean Lally, Staff Writer
When you get hurt on the job, it’s good to know that there are mechanisms in place for obtaining much-needed compensation for medical bills and lost wages. These mechanisms are known as worker’s compensation. Luckily, worker’s comp is fairly easy to access, unless of course, your employer resists your attempt to collect. In this case, it may be a good idea to contact a skilled worker’s compensation lawyer, as they can help you get around the obstacles put up by your boss. Otherwise, the process is relatively straightforward at the outset. After you’ve been injured on the job, your first course of action is to notify your employer that you’ve been injured. This often involves paperwork. In cases of emergency, you can usually just go straight to the nearest healthcare provider, but even then, it’s incredibly important to tell your employer about your injury in a timely manner. Failure to do so can result in forfeiting your benefits, which needless to say, is not ideal. Below we will touch on some of the concerns surrounding these time limits.
Notifying Your Employer
In North Carolina, for instance, you have 30 days to notify your employer of your injury in written form, and that’s generally the case in a lot of jurisdictions. That being said, it’s important to check your state’s (or locality’s) particular rule on the subject, as these limitations can vary from state to state. What’s more, it’s always a good idea to file the appropriate paperwork sooner rather than later. Why? Insurance companies are not usually forgiving when it comes to delayed filing. Failure to file (or to notify your employer) in a timely manner can lead to all sorts of complications down the line. Your boss and their insurance company can use your lack of immediate action against you, arguing that your injuries may not be as serious as you say they are. In this way, they can effectively diminish the value of your claim.
It’s also important to consider the time limitations for filing worker’s comp claims. In Ohio, you have two years from the time you are injured to file a worker’s comp claim with the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC). The BWC generally resolves these claims within 28 days of filing. Things get a little trickier when dealing with illnesses contracted while working. In these cases, you have two years from the onset of the disability to file a claim. However, this might mean that you have a shorter window if, say, you suffer from brain cancer or asbestosis. Other states have longer timelines. In Wisconsin, for instance, you have six years from the time of the injury to file a claim.
Even If You Falter…
In a lot of jurisdictions, you can still file a claim, even if you failed to notify your employer in writing. It’s generally sufficient that your employer knows about the injury, regardless of whether you’ve given them a proper form. Nonetheless, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so be sure to put it in writing as soon as possible.
In some jurisdictions, you may be barred from filing a claim if you are currently receiving benefits from your employer. In this case, you can still file a claim; you just have to wait until the current benefits cease. It’s also important to note that there are certain extenuating circumstances, in which you would be permitted an extension. In many states, if you fall into a coma, or suffer an extreme injury that requires long-term treatment, you may be able to offset the filing deadline.
If you run into complications, and specifically if your employer attempts to withhold the benefits, it’s advisable to seek out the help of an experienced worker’s comp lawyer. With the right help, you can obtain maximum remuneration for your injuries and avoid common pitfalls, such as missed deadlines.