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Are There Statutes of Limitations in Workers Compensation Cases?

If you are injured on the job, your first priority is obviously to get the appropriate medical care and focus on recovery. But it is important not to wait too long to get the ball rolling on filing a workers compensation claim, if you plan to file one, before time runs out. The deadline for filing a claim is called the statute of limitations, and these laws vary by state.

Workers Comp Deadlines Vary by State

Depending your location and situation, you may have just one or two years from the date of the work-related illness or injury—or from the date you first were aware of it—to file. Some states, however, offer much more generous windows of time for making your claim. Wisconsin, for instance, offers a 12-year statute of limitations for workers compensation cases—and no limit at all for occupational disease and certain serious traumatic injuries.

But it would be foolish to assume time is on your side if you are hurt or injured on the job. Here are some further examples of how states differ on their statutes of limitations:

  • California has a one-year statute of limitation.
  • In Florida, a claimant may file a petition within two years of the date the employee knew or should have known that an injury or death occurred while on the job.
  • Employees in Texas have one year to file after an injury occurs or, for a disease, one year from the date the employee knew or should have known the disease was related to employment.
  • In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations is three years.

While these are the laws in these states, courts and other circumstances can sometimes extend the time limit. Some of these situations include a claimant's lack of knowledge or that an employer has misled an employee about the law.

Why Do Workers Comp Deadlines Vary by State?

Workers compensation programs were developed and are run on the state level. So each U.S. state and territory has enacted its own unique rules and regulations regarding their benefits and administration. As such, these rules are subject to change on the state level, so your best bet for getting the most up-to-date information on your state’s workers compensation statute of limitations is to check with your state’s department of labor.

Are These Time Limits Strict?

Occasionally there are extenuating circumstances under which exceptions or extensions can be made regarding statutes of limitations for workers compensation cases. But if you have been hurt or injured on the job, time obviously is of the essence. A great first step is to consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable about the workers compensation laws in your state.