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How Much Time Do I Have to File for Workers Comp?

Work Injury Lawyer

When you’ve just been injured on the job, it can be hard to know what your next move should be. The most obvious one is taking care of your medical care. But what’s next? Too often, injured workers become so mired in recovery that they neglect to file for workers compensation until it’s too late. As is the case with many civil matters, the time you have to file to get compensation for your injury is restricted by state-issued statutes of limitation. Ignore your state’s deadlines for filing your workers’ compensation claim and you may forfeit the money you are owed forever.

Different States, Different Deadlines

When it comes to how long you have to file for workers compensation benefits, states make the rules. They typically have two deadlines for recently injured employees to:

  • Notify their employer either verbally or in writing
  • Formally file their initial workers’ compensation claim

How long you have to do either can vary widely. As a general rule of thumb, you have far less time to notify your employer of an injury than you have to file your claim. Typically, the deadline is from 30 to 90 days from the time of injury. Timelines to file a claim are longer but can vary depending on the nature of the injury. Most states require a worker to file within a year or two from the time of the accident.

There are important exceptions. In Hawaii, for example, you may have up to five years to file. Another important detail is that the states may start the clock ticking toward the deadline at different times based on the type of incident. For instance, in West Virginia workers have six months from the date of injury, but three years from the last time a worker was exposed to an occupational hazard.

Consequences of Missing a Deadline

 Simply put, missing a deadline to notify your employer or file your claim can mean you give up the right to recovery of any or all benefits. Fortunately, states know how complex workers compensation claims can be and are often willing to extend deadlines. A knowledgeable workers compensation attorney can help you learn what options you have if you’ve missed the statute of limitations for your claim.

A workplace injury can be a stressful event, triggering overwhelming life changes. While you’re navigating the after-effects of your injury, don’t forget to secure your future. Arrange a consultation with an experienced Milwaukee work injury lawyer who can help you navigate the deadlines and get what you are owed.

Thanks to Hickey & Turim, SC for their insight into workers compensation claims and the amount of time you have to file your claim.