If you have been injured on the job and are filing for workers’ compensation benefits, it is important that you act as soon as possible. It is critical that you report the incident, file all the required paperwork and do it on time so your claim is successful and you get the benefits you deserve and need during this challenging time. However, there are a number of time limitations that may apply depending on the type of injury or illness, the manner in which it occurred and whether you can qualify for the benefits. Any delay in filing or missing deadlines can cause your compensation amount to be drastically reduced or denied.
If you have suffered an injury or illness on the job and have questions about your workers’ comp case, please do not wait to contact the Los Angeles workers’ compensation lawyers at ODG Law Group. We will ensure that your statute of limitations doesn’t run out and that your application is completed in a timely manner so you receive the benefits you need.
Report Your Injury Right way
If you have been injured in a workplace accident or if you have developed a work-related injury or illness over a period of time, you must fill out what is known as a DWC-1 form and submit it to your employer within 30 days of becoming aware of your injury or illness. California law states that you cannot lose your job if you were accidentally injured at work. However, you must submit your claim form to avoid any type of complication. Not meeting the 30-day deadline for filing your workers’ compensation claim could result in medical costs or lost wages, which might have otherwise been picked up workers’ compensation.
California Labor Code Section 5400 states: “No claim to recover compensation under this division shall be maintained unless within thirty days after the occurrence of the injury which is claimed to have caused the disability or death, there is served upon the employer notice in writing, signed by the person injured or someone in his behalf, or in case of the death of the person injured, by a dependent or someone in the dependent’s behalf.”
After your employer has received written notification of your injury, they will have at least five days to file a workers’ compensation claim with the insurance carrier on your behalf. You should expect to receive a letter from the insurance company within 14 days confirming the status of your claim. If you have not received this letter contact the insurance company.
During any initial medical treatments for your injury, be sure to tell your doctor or physician that your ailments are workplace-related. This will establish early on that you believe your injury happened on-the-job, and the medical practitioner will know to bill your employer for any treatments.
Statute of Limitations for Workers’ Comp Cases
Generally speaking, the statute of limitations for filing a workers’ compensation claim or appeal in California is one year from the date of the injury. The California Labor Code, however, distinguishes between two different types of workplace injuries – a specific injury and a cumulative trauma injury. This is not the case in other states where their law recognizes only specific injuries. Here are the definitions for “specific” and “cumulative” injuries under California Labor Code Section 3208.1:
- A specific injury occurs as the result of one incident or exposure, which causes disability or the need for medical treatment.
- A cumulative trauma injury is one that occurs as a result of repetitive mentally or physically traumatic activities extending over a period of time, the combined effect of which causes any disability or need for medical treatment.
The date of a cumulative trauma injury is determined in accordance with Labor Code Section 5412, which states: “The date of injury in cases of occupational diseases or cumulative injuries is that date upon which the employee first suffered disability there from and either knew, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have known, that such disability was caused by his present or prior employment.”
When to File a Workers’ Comp Claim
It is important that you file your DWC-1 form within 30 days of your injury. If you did not do that, here are the rules on when your claim may be denied for being past the statute of limitations:
- If your employer’s insurance company provided benefits following your injury such as medical expenses or a portion of wages lost, you have five years from the date of injury to official file your claim including the DWC-1 form and an Application for Adjudication of Claim.
- If the insurance company denied your request for benefits or injury report, you have one year from the date of your injury to officially file the workers’ compensation claim.
- If you are trying to collect death benefits on behalf of a relative who died in a work-related incident, you have one year from the date of death to officially file your claim.
Our Workers’ Comp Lawyers Can Help
If you did not file a workers’ compensation claim within the time frames mentioned above, it is imperative that you contact an experienced Los Angeles workers’ compensation lawyer. The law in this area is extremely complex. You may still be able to file even if you missed the statute of limitations deadlines. For example, if your employer did not properly advise you of your right to file a workers’ compensation claim or post the proper notices in the workplace, you may still be able to file a claim.
At ODG Law Group, our workers’ compensation attorneys will handle all your interactions not just with your employer, but also your insurance company giving you the time and peace of mind to recover quickly and completely from your injuries. We will help ensure that you receive the medical care you need to recover well and get a portion of wages lost as you spend time recovering. Our lawyers will fight hard to get benefits for all the injuries and ailments from which you are suffering. Call us at 818-254-8244 to find out how we can help you.