Workers’ compensation is available for nearly every employee who has suffered from a genuine workplace injury or work related illness. Successful claims can help pay for expensive medical bills and compensate, at least in part, for lost earnings. Even minor injuries may necessitate taking several days off work to recover sufficiently to be able to work effectively again.
Although in most cases the employer is likely to have taken out insurance with a private provider, it is the state that sets the conditions under which employees must take into consideration when filing a claim. Some of the more important of these conditions are time limits in which certain stages of a claim or an appeal against a denied claim must be completed.
Time Limits While Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
There are often strict time limits imposed on injured employees and other parties in an insurance claim or appeal must observe. Failure to do so at any stage of the claim before it is settled amicably may mean rejection of the claim altogether.
The most important legal time constraints are as follows:
- • informing supervisor or employer’s representative directly about the injury;
- • filing an accident report in the accident register held in your workplace;
- • filing a claim for workers’ compensation, usually presented with the insurer, but in some cases with the state workers’ comp. board or its equivalent.
In the event of a claim denial, then there may be further time limits as an appeal works its way through the appeals system. For example, a mediation session may be organized within a certain time frame, another time limit may be imposed on an administrative hearing and a further one for a request for a review in the event of a negative decision and a final time limit may be given to present the appeal to the state’s Supreme Court.
Why Sooner is Better Than Later
While time limits for filing accident reports and informing a supervisor are often quite short, the time for filing an insurance claim can seem quite generous. It is common for states to allow 2 to 3 years for a claim to be filed and considered after an injury. This is logical, as after a serious injury the worker may be unable to do anything about a claim for considerable time.
Despite the time frame given to file a claim, it is preferable to get the ball rolling as soon as your health allows you to do so. That is because although you don’t have to show that your employer was liable, you will find that it is easier to find supporting documentation or reliable witnesses and other evidence sooner rather than later, when accident debris has been cleared up and former employees who could have corroborated your account have left the job and disappeared to the other side of the state or the country.
Importance of an Attorney
Unless there is something particularly unusual about your injury and treatment or you have particular concerns about the attitude of your employer or its insurer, you may not need an attorney in the initial stages of a claim. However, if there seem to be any complications or your claim has been denied or payment curtailed, then you should get legal advice from a competent and experienced workers’ compensation attorney.