The workers’ compensation system requires that workers file their claims within certain time limits. There are limits on notice and limits on when you can bring a claim in general. You must comply with these rules or the Workers’ Compensation Agency may dismiss your claim. For this reason, it is important to talk to a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as you can after your work injury. The sooner you file your claim, the easier it is to get workers’ compensation benefits and the faster you will start receiving benefits.
Notice Requirements for the Initial Injury
You must provide your employer with notice of your injury within a certain time period after the accident. In Massachusetts, employees are encouraged to give their employer notice of their injury immediately after it occurs. However, it is the employer’s responsibility to report your injury and absence from work to their workers’ compensation insurance carrier. If you have been earning wages less than your regular amount for five or more days, then your employer must report your injury to their insurer and the Department of Industrial Accidents.
In other states, there may be a notice requirement that bars a workers’ claim if they do not report the injury. These times periods vary from 10 days to 90 days. No matter what state you are in, it is a good idea to report your injury to your employer right away.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim After My Injury?
If you are injured at work, you have a certain amount of time after the injury to file a workers’ compensation claim with the Department of Industrial Accidents. This process is very different from the initial report of the injury. Filing this type of claim means that there is a dispute between you and your employer or your employer’s insurance company. Filing the initial notice of injury just triggers coverage if it is applicable, but filing a claim starts the legal process.
If you have problems with your workers’ compensation claim coverage, you have four years after the date of the injury to bring a claim with the Department. If you receive a denial letter, then you have four years of the date of the denial letter to appeal the denial.
If you do not realize that your injury was work related right away, then you might have additional time as well. This rule is especially helpful in situations where you have gradual injuries, like chronic pain or carpal tunnel syndrome. In those situations, it is sometimes difficult to determine that your injury was actually caused by your work activities.
Exceptions to Filing a Claim
There may be some exceptions to these time restrictions. Exceptions usually involve situations where the employee cannot file a claim, such as when he or she is physically incapable because they are in a coma or legally incapable because they are minor. Occupational disease, hearing cases, and cumulative trauma cases may have different time restrictions as well.
It is always a good idea to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to determine whether an exception might apply to your case. If you explain the particulars of your case to Jim Glaser at Jim Glaser Law during your free case evaluation, then he will be able to tell you whether your case might be time-barred. Call 781-679-5300 for more information.