For employees injured on the job, understanding the workers’ compensation statute of limitations plays a critical role in receiving payment for medical expenses and lost time from work.
Under Florida workers’ compensation rules, you generally have two years to file a Petition for Benefits following a work-related injury or illness. However, the exact deadlines for filing can vary based on the specifics of your case.
In addition, claims are closed a year after the most-recent compensation payment or medical treatment for a work-related injury. For anyone injured prior to January 1994, claims are closed after two years.
If you or a loved one have been hurt in the course of your employment, it is vital that you work with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to ensure that you receive fair reimbursement for the expenses you incur. What do you need to know to meet your obligations under Florida’s workers’ compensation laws?
Statutes Vary by State
Statutes of limitations determine when you’re required to file a claim for benefits following a workplace injury. Throughout the United States, workers’ compensation laws require employees to file claims within a certain amount of time after an injury on the job. However, individual states determine their specific workers’ compensation rules and regulations — including statutes of limitations.
In Florida, injured workers can file petitions within two years of the date they knew — or should have known — about an injury suffered on the job or one year after the last date that a worker received benefits.
The Florida workers’ compensation statute of limitations terminates your right to sue for damages or to claim benefits unless you comply with specific conditions laid out in the law. Before the deadline — generally one or two years, depending on your circumstances — you must file a lawsuit, referred to as a Petition for Benefits. If you miss the deadline, you permanently lose the ability to sue for compensation for your injury or illness.
The law does provide some exceptions, based in part on workers’ knowledge of their obligations if they are injured on the job. Employers have a responsibility to provide certain documentation and information to injured workers, assuming that the employer is aware of an injury.
What Should You Do if You’re Injured?
Workers who suffer injuries at their workplaces should first focus on receiving the medical care they need. However, it is critical to file your workers’ compensation claim as soon as possible to ensure that you comply with the statute of limitations.
If you are unsure how to start the process or you believe that you may qualify for additional time to file your claim, an experienced attorney can assist you.
The first critical step to take to ensure that you receive appropriate compensation is reporting your accident to your employer in a timely fashion. In most cases, you are required to notify your employer within 30 days of your injury, or you may lose your ability to file a workers’ compensation claim. It is wise to report your injury as soon as possible rather than waiting for the full 30 days.
While informally mentioning your injury to your boss may qualify as notification under the law, the safest course is to provide the notification in writing. In your written notification, you should include all relevant facts, including the date, time and place of your injury, the work you were performing at the time, the identities of any witnesses, the extent of your injuries, and details about any medical treatment you have received.
After you report your injury, your employer is required to notify their workers’ compensation insurer within seven days. The insurance company, in turn, is required to send you a brochure explaining your rights and obligations within three days after notification by the employer.
If your employer refuses to report your injury to the insurance company, consult with your attorney to determine the proper steps to ensure that you receive compensation. After you report your injury to your employer, you should receive your first benefits check within 21 days, according to Florida law.
Choose an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Workers’ compensation law in Florida is complex, and you must meet specific requirements to receive compensation following a workplace injury. Even when you meet all of your obligations under the law, you may find that the insurer denies your claim and you must file a petition.
By working with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, you ensure that you have a knowledgeable partner by your side to answer your questions and guide you through the process. For a no-cost consultation with a workers’ compensation lawyer, please contact Kaire & Heffernan, LLC.