How the Statute of Limitations for Filing Workers’ Comp Varies By State

Every state in the US requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance that covers an employee’s on-the-job injuries and illnesses that develop due to on-the-job exposures. Not every employee who qualifies to file a workers’ comp claim does so though. Many people miss the deadline to file their claims.

Statute of Limitations for Filing Workers

Filing Insurance Claims Has a Deadline

Just like filing a police report for a crime to have its perpetrator punished, each state sets a statute of limitations on filing a workers’ comp claim. Since this workers compensation claim limit varies by state, an injured or ill employee needs to look up the filing time limit for the state in which they work, not the location of the headquarters of the company.

Example of Finding the Deadline for Filing

For example, Jane Doe might work for a corporation with manufacturing plants in Texas, California, Michigan, and New York and headquarters in Texas. When Ms. Doe sustains an injury while working on a manufacturing line at a plant, she needs to look up the deadline for California and file her workers’ compensation claim by the deadline for the state in which her job takes place. According to FindLaw, the state of California provides up to one year from the date of the injury for the employee to file a workers’ comp claim. Conversely, if Ms. Doe worked in the Michigan plant, she’d have up to two years from the date of her injury to file her claim.

Some States Offer Very Short Deadlines

Some states provide much less time than a year to file for compensation. Alaska provides an employee only 30 days from the date of injury or diagnosis of an illness to file an insurance claim.

Exceptions to the Deadlines

According to NoLo, In some situations, some states provide an exception to the deadline when the severity of the injury precludes the employee from filing an immediate claim. Each state also varies in these exceptions, but the typical list includes:

  • The injury caused the employee to enter a comatose state,
  • The injury caused brain damage,
  • Severe injuries require immediate surgery or prolonged treatment, such as serious burns or limb loss,
  • Exposure to a contagion requires quarantine of the employee.

Other Reasons People Miss the Deadline

Besides missing the deadline, some employees don’t realize that their injury or illness receives coverage under workers’ comp. Repetitive motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, receive coverage, as do illnesses, such as mesothelioma, caused by repeated exposure to toxins.

In other situations, the employee may not realize the insurance covers their injuries because they received it while at a work-related event, such as a conference or convention that their employer required they attend. All work-related activities count as “on-the-job,” whether you traveled to your office or traveled to Taipei to negotiate a new contract. As long as the employee actively conducted work for their paying job at the time of the injury, the workers’ comp insurance covers it.

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