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How long after an injury at work can I file a claim?

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A work-related injury sometimes can be a bit confusing. You get hurt at work, you think it will get better on its own and you wait it out. Are you undecided about filing a Workers' Compensation claim? You might not have as much time to make up your mind as you think. Workers' Compensation statutory limits are something all injured workers need to keep in mind. Like any area of the law, Workers' Compensation has statutes of limitation that determine how much time you have to file your claim. Time Limits in Workers’ Compensation are very important.

Reporting an injury to your Employer!

Each state’s law set the deadlines for filing claims, reporting the injury directly to your employer, and other matters related to your workers’ comp case. Here in California, the sooner you report it the better. California Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1 sets the limitation for personal injuries. According to the statute, you have two years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit in the court against a private employer. The time limit for filing a case against California city, council, or state government is even shorter. You only have six months after an injury to file a workplace lawsuit in court against the government agency.

If you do not file within the specified time limit, the court will most likely reject your case for a workplace injury.

After you’ve been injured at work, or you discover you have a medical condition caused by your workplace conditions, you should report it right away. Make it clear that you were hurt on the job.

Are there any Exceptions to the Statute of Limitation?

Yes, there are certain exceptions to the time limit specified in the statute of limitation in California. The only time the limitation is not applicable is if an injured person becomes aware of an injury at a later date. When that happens, the statute of limitation will be applicable when the worker discovers the workplace injury. In fact, the statute of limitation begins to run once the victim becomes aware of the injury and not when it happened.

In California, it is very important that you give proper notification to the employer within a specific period. The California Labor Code Section 5400 states that an employee will not have any legal recourse if no written notice is served by the employer or someone on his or her behalf within 30 days of the injury. Again, the only time there is an exception is when the injury was discovered later.

Man Looking at Watch - Workers' Comp Statute of Limitations

What are statutory limitations?

Statutory limitations are legally mandated time limits that determine how long you have to take legal action. Statutory limitations exist both in civil & criminal areas of the law, and they vary state-by-state.

Why do statutes of limitation exist?

Statutory limits exist to encourage applicants and plaintiffs to file cases in a timely manner. This is important because the passage of time makes evidence hard to collect. A fresh case may have eye-witnesses, whereas it's much harder to get a statement about something that happened five years ago.

What are the statutory limits in California Workers' Compensation?

Generally speaking, these are the key figures: you have thirty days to report your injury to your employer, and then one year to open your Workers' Compensation claim. However, things aren't always quite so simple. If your employer should reasonably know about your injury -- for an example, if you left work to seek medical care, or if your manager saw you get hurt -- the 30-day rule won't matter. There are also many circumstances where you can get around the 1-year statute: for an example, if your employer doesn't do their duty and inform you that you can file a Workers' Compensation claim.

After you file your claim, the insurance company has 90 days to accept, deny, or delay your claim. There are many other circumstances where the insurance company has time restrictions as well, such as when they're issuing your payments and reimbursements. For an example, the insurance company has 60 days to reimburse your medical mileage after you submit a form, and 30 days to issue a check for your settlement after you sign a C&R. Keep track of the dates when you receive your payments.

Is there anything you can do if you didn't file your Workers' Compensation claim on time?

This varies from situation to situation. If you've missed a deadline, talk to an experienced Workers' Compensation attorney. A Workers' Compensation lawyer can let you know if there's a workaround for the statutory limitations for your specific case. You can schedule a consultation with Pacific Workers' Compensation Law Center today -- we'll do everything we can to help.

Contact a Professional Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Help!

The legal requirements for a workplace injury can get a bit complicated, getting help from an expert is highly recommended. The rules regarding workplace injury in California are complex. A Workers’ Compensation Attorney will provide you the best representation for your case and the odds of a successful court outcome will increase significantly.

When it comes to filing a workplace injury, time is of the essence. The sooner you contact an attorney, the better the chances you have of getting full and fair compensation. Pacific Workers’ Compensation is the Lawyers for injured workers. Get help from the best Workers’ Compensation attorneys in Northern California today!

Attorney Michael J. Ulrich

Get to Know the Author: Attorney Michael J. Ulrich

Attorney Ulrich is an Associate Attorney with Pacific Workers’ Compensation Law Center. He has worked in the field of workers' compensation and employee relations since starting his legal career. His goal is to protect injured workers from the sly actions of insurance companies. 

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