How Long Do I Have to File a Claim After I'm Injured at Work?

Workplace injuries may seem far-fetched but they are always a plausible scenario. Injuries of any kind caused by an unexpected accident are more than just a nuisance. You may be hospitalized, need specialized treatment and may lose many days at work.

Who’s going to pay for the inevitable expenses and loss of income? Fortunately, for most workers, the majority of workplace injury costs are paid for by the employer’s compulsory workers’ compensation insurance. A successful claim, submitted on time and with all necessary supporting documentation, can shield the injured employee from the financial blow of an injury substantially.

Important Steps After a Workplace Injury

If you are contemplating seeking compensation for a workplace injury you should be aware that there is a series of steps involved that must be completed if there is going to be a successful outcome. Insurance companies rarely enjoy paying out claims of any kind and are unlikely to tolerate a poorly completed workers’ compensation claim.

The first priority after any accident is to get medical treatment. Even if the injury seems minor, it is important to have a check-up by a doctor. Some injuries don’t really reveal themselves until a few days after the incident that caused them.

The employer, or at least your immediate supervisor, should be notified as soon as possible and the incident recorded as an accident report. There may be time limits in which this should be done.

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim After I'm Injured at Work?

Time Limits to Remember After a Workplace Injury

There are always time limits imposed when it comes to filing a workers’ compensation claim. These are determined by the legislation enacted by the state where you were injured.

The workers’ compensation process is usually overseen by a state workers’ compensation board or other equivalent agency. They determine time limits and other factors that affect what can be paid in compensation. The time limit imposed on the actual claim itself is usually two to three years after the date of the injury.

It is important to be aware of the time limits as your claim may be dismissed if it is too late. Two to three years may seem quite generous, but it is usually in your interest to file a workers’ comp. claim as soon as you are physically and mentally fit enough to do so.

This is simply because you may need corroboration from witnesses like some of your work colleagues. Their memories of the accident and how and when you were injured will be fresher soon after the incident. If there is a high staff turnover, you may even lose witnesses if you leave it too late.

Importance of an Attorney

It’s not always necessary to use an attorney to help prepare a workers’ comp. claim unless the situation is particularly complicated. Insurers are not always ready to pay compensation and may even deny the claim or limit the amount paid.

This is when you need the expertise of a workers’ compensation attorney the most. You may need to file an appeal if mediation doesn’t work. This is quite a complicated and drawn out procedure and is best left to an attorney to tackle on your behalf.

Additional Resources