Generally, the statute of limitations on work-related injuries in California is one year from the date the injury occurred, according to California Labor Code § 5405. That means anyone who suffers an injury while on the job has one year to file a workers’ compensation claim to recover lost wages, receive paid medical care, and more.
Alternatively, the one-year statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims may begin when you discover — or should have reasonably known about — your work-related injury or illness. This exception could mean that you have more time to file your claim than you thought.
It’s important to understand how much time you have to file a workers’ compensation claim so you don’t miss your chance to recover much-needed benefits. Knowing this timeline also helps you stay on top of your workers’ compensation claim and be proactive in getting your benefits as soon as possible.
One-Year Deadline for Specific Injuries in the Workplace
A work-related injury that occurs during an accident in the course of work is known as a specific injury. If you experience a work-related accident, you should see a doctor right away to get evaluated. That way you can identify any injuries and start your workers’ compensation claim promptly.
If you discover an injury after a work-related accident and fail to seek medical attention, it could jeopardize your workers’ compensation claim — even if the one-year deadline has not passed. Likewise, if you don’t report an accident in the workplace and later discover that you were injured, your claim may be denied.
Lastly, if you’ve passed the one-year statute of limitations but did not file a workers’ compensation claim, you could lose your right to benefits even if you reported the accident or injury to your employer. One year is not a long time. That’s why it’s best to quickly report any accidents and injuries to your employer and follow all of the steps to file a workers’ compensation claim.
What If I Just Found Out About a Long-Term Work Injury?
It can be hard to determine how long you have to file a workers’ compensation claim for an injury or illness you may have had for a while but weren’t aware of.
Some injuries are caused by sustained strain or damage over time. These are known as cumulative trauma injuries. There is no specific date as to when a cumulative trauma injury occurred. You could also develop an illness over time due to the nature of your work. This is known as an occupational illness. There is no “start date” for these health conditions, either.
In both cases, you should report the cumulative trauma injury to your employer as soon as you get a diagnosis. From the date of that diagnosis, you likely have one year to file your workers’ compensation claim. However, the longer you wait, the more time you go without getting paid medical care, wage support, and other benefits.
Exceptions to the One-Year Rule
California is very clear on the one-year statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims. This encourages employers and insurance companies to provide injured workers their benefits as soon as possible. But there are some situations where injured workers need more time. Here are a few exceptions to California’s statute of limitations for workers’ compensation:
- Minors: Any employee under the age of 18 who gets injured on the job is often granted more time to file a workers’ compensation claim.
- Federal employees: Any federal employees who work in California follow federal laws for workers’ compensation claims enforced by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs. These injured workers may have up to three years from the date of injury or discovery of an injury or occupational illness to file a workers’ compensation claim.
A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you determine whether your work-related injury falls under the one-year statute of limitations or if you fit an exception that could grant you more time to file.
Other Deadlines in the Workers’ Compensation Claims Process
There are other deadlines to keep in mind throughout the filing process for workers’ compensation, including:
- Reporting a work-related injury to your employer: While you should report an injury as soon as possible, the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) states that you have 30 days from the date of the injury’s occurrence or the date you receive a diagnosis for the injury or occupational illness.
- Waiting for a response to your claim: The claims administrator has up to 90 days to either approve or deny your workers’ compensation claim. If you don’t hear back within 90 days, your injury is deemed covered and you can proceed with getting benefits.
- Receiving temporary disability payments: The insurance company has 14 days from the date they learn of your disabling injury to start paying temporary disability.
- Appealing a denied workers’ compensation claim: You have 20 days from the day you receive a denial letter to begin the appeals process. Throughout this process, you have two weeks to 45 days to take additional steps, such as requesting a formal hearing or appealing a judge’s denial of your claim.
You Can Get Help Keeping Your Workers’ Compensation Claim on Track
Keeping track of deadlines and making sure your paperwork is filed on time can be a huge hassle, especially if you’re recovering from a work-related injury or occupational illness. A workers’ compensation attorney from KJT Law Group can ensure you make every deadline and protect your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
You can get a free case evaluation from one of our team members. That way you can find out how much time you have to file a workers’ compensation claim and recover the benefits you need. Contact or call us today at (818) 507-8525 or contact us online to get started.