When you suffer a workplace injury, you probably just want to rest as best you can. Unfortunately, you do not have much time to relax due to statutes of limitations that could complicate your claim to workers’ compensation benefits before it has a chance to really begin.
All states have a policy regarding the statute of limitations for personal injury and for workers’ compensation claims, as well as different regulations for how to manage a claim. Leonard Law Group is located in Chicago, so we will be focusing on Illinois-specific laws and rules in this blog entry. If you live in another state, then you should be aware that the statutes we discuss are probably different for your situation. Working with a local workers’ compensation lawyer can help you figure out the details.
Time Limit to Report Your Injury
Illinois law requires all injured workers who want to file a workers’ compensation claim to report their injury to their employers within 45 days after suffering the work injury. Waiting the entire 45 days is not recommended, though. In fact, delaying for even one day is not in your best interests. Ideally, you will be able to tell your boss, supervisor, manager, or employer about your accident within the hour that it happens.
The longer you wait to inform your employer of your accident, the more reason your employer and their insurance provider will have to suspect that some details of your report are falsified or misremembered. Attempting to remember the details of an accident more than a month after it happened can be difficult, after all. If 45 days pass and you have still not yet told your employer of your accident, then any insurance company responding to your workers’ comp claim later will have solid grounds to deny it outright.
Time Limit to File Your Claim
Reporting your accident and injuries to your employer is only the first step in receiving workers’ compensation benefits, though. You also need to file a claim through the workers’ compensation policy provided through your employer.
In Illinois, you can file a workers’ compensation claim up to 2 years from the last date that received “compensation” from the employer’s workers compensation carrier, OR 3 years from the date of your injury, whichever is longest. The payment of “compensation” has been defined as either the last date you received TTD, or the last date that a work-related injury medical bill was paid by the workers compensation carrier. There are also limited circumstances when payment by the employer’s group carrier of an injury medical bill may also be considered “compensation”. As a general rule, when you are injured, you can assume that you have a 3-year statute of limitations commencing from the accident date to file your workers’ compensation claim. It is uncommon for injured employees to wait more than 3 years to file a claim, and it is not recommended. As with telling your employer about your accident, waiting too long to actually file a claim can muddle details and give the insurance company reason to doubt the accuracy of your words.
Although, the 2-year statute of limitations that starts on the last day you receive payment from your employer is too important to overlook. It is a crucial rule for people who never filed for workers’ compensation because they did not realize they qualified for it. In such situations, the claimant can usually be reimbursed for medical costs associated with their injury and might even be able to get some missing wages through backpay.
Statute of Limitations for Gradual Injuries
Not all work injuries are easily recognizable the moment they happen. For many workers, the injuries and illnesses they suffer at work or through the course of their employment happen gradually or subtly at first. For example, repetitive trauma injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome affect thousands of office workers each year, but it only begins as a soreness in the wrists. Or some workers have been diagnosed with cancer after being exposed to hazardous chemicals at work for years.
When it is not clear when exactly a work-related injury or illness began, it would be unfair to try to set that hazy date as the beginning of a claimant’s statute of limitations. Instead, the statute should begin on the date of discovery, which means the day the injured worker became aware of their health condition.
For example, imagine that you were diagnosed with arthritis 6 years after starting an office job in Chicago. The usual statute of limitations will have been long expired, but you would likely be permitted to file a claim as long as you filed within 3 years of your diagnosis.
Leonard Law Group – By Your Side
If you were injured at work and need to file a workers’ compensation claim, don’t hesitate to call Leonard Law Group at (312) 487-2513. We have represented more than 7,500 people and have recovered more than $500 million in verdicts, settlements, and awards for our clients. While no past result can guarantee a future result, we think our history shows that we have the caliber of skill and experience your case needs to have a fair chance of succeeding. Let us see what we can do for you and your case by contacting us today.