Understanding the timeline for filing a work comp claim is essential information for both employees and company owners. While there is a patchwork of laws all over the United States, based on each state and on federal rules, the main thing to keep in mind is that it’s always best to file as quickly as possible after a work injury occurs.
Fast filing means you’ll be more able to show that you are eligible for compensation. It also means you will begin getting monetary compensation more quickly. The timeline for filing a work comp claim depends on several things.
A basic summary of the various timelines is listed below. Here are the key points to remember if you are injured on the job:
Of course, the “big picture” about time limits is filing as soon as possible, even if you aren’t sure the injury is bad enough to meet the standard for getting a claim paid. In addition, even though most US states have different sets of laws governing workers compensation, most are extremely similar in the way they treat the timeline for filing a work comp claim.
Also note the difference between “filing a claim” and “informing an employer.” They are two completely different legal events. When we speak of timelines, we’re primarily speaking of the legal rules that govern the timing for the “filing of a claim.”
With very few exceptions for severely debilitating injuries, most states have a timeline for filing that ranges between one and three months. It bears repeating that if you even suspect you have an injury that was caused by your job, it won’t hurt to file a claim as soon as possible. Even if it’s dismissed, you’ll still be on the safe side of the situation.
Typical, or “moderate,” injuries usually pertain to workers who hurt their backs while on the job. The human back is a funny thing, as workers compensation attorneys and physicians know, because it can sometimes not display the full extent of its initial injury for many months, or even years.
So if you have even a slight back injury that was caused by your job, don’t hesitate to file a workcomp claim. If the condition gets worse as time passes, you’ll be glad you filed. If it goes away, your claim will simply be dismissed, which is nothing to worry about.
Occupational Maladies and Diseases
Some workers comp cases are for very serious “occupational diseases” like black lung and cancers caused by radiation exposure. In cases like these, the “clock” on your filing obligation begins whenever you hear from a doctor that you probably have such a condition, and when you know that it was likely caused by your job tasks.
When you inform your employer about a workers comp situation, be careful to include two points: that you believe you were injured “while at work” and that you intend to “file a workers comp claim.”
If you merely say you feel unwell and need some time off, that does not constitute “legal notice” to your employer for such matters. Remember, when it comes to informing your supervisor and to filing a claim, act as quickly as possible. Even if you turn out to be wrong, or if the injury clears up on its own, you need to give notice as early as possible and get the claim filed as soon as you can.
The Importance of Hiring Competent Legal Help
Whenever you suffer a work-related injury and are even “just thinking” about filing a workers compensation claim, contact an attorney who specializes in this complex field. Too often, employees think they can “just discuss things with the boss and get it taken care of.”
This is an incorrect course of action. Especially in situations where your boss tells you not to contact a workman’s comp attorney or advises you to “settle” for medical expenses, you should run, not walk, to a local workers comp attorney. Only by consulting with competent legal professionals will you be able to get a fair resolution for your injury.