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Accidents happen, and when they happen in the workplace, they can leave you too injured to work. And missing work, even for a short time, can be devastating on your finances. Lucky for you, most employers are required to contribute to workers' compensation insurance policies and most people injured by on-the-job injuries are eligible for workers' comp benefits.
But do you have to file a workers' comp claim immediately? What if your injury or illness worsens over time? How long do you have to file a workers' compensation claim, and when is it too late?
First and foremost, you should receive immediate medical treatment for any workplace injury, if necessary, and then you can start worrying about a workers' comp claim. Some state workers' compensation insurance policies may require you to see a specified doctor, so you may want to consult your supervisor, if possible. However, many states allow you to get a second opinion if you are not satisfied with the first one. And even if you don't think you need immediate medical attention, a doctor's visit may be a requirement for the workers' comp claim process.
In a perfect world, you would notify your employer of the injury (and the pending workers' comp claim) immediately or as soon as possible after the injury. The notification must be in writing, and the sooner you notify your employer, the better, as you'll have a better memory of the incident. Even if you're not sure if you've been injured, it's a good idea to report all workplace accidents anyway.
But notifying your employer and filing for worker's comp isn't always easy. Some injuries can be debilitating, and others may develop slowly over time, after exposure to dangerous working conditions. And the deadlines for notifying your employer and for filing a workers' comp claim may vary depending on where you live.
For the most part, states require that you notify your employer of a workplace injury within 60 or even 30 days. But you may have longer to file a workers' compensation claim with the state. Alaska, for instance, only gives injured workers 30 days to provide notice of an injury or death to both the employer and the state workers' comp board. New York requires employer notice within 30 days, but gives an employee two years from the date of the injury to file a claim with the state. In Massachusetts, on the other hand, employees have four years from the date they become aware of the causal connection between their disability and their employment to file a workers' comp claim.
Workers' compensation claims can be complicated, and some claims can be denied. For the best legal information regarding your workplace injury, contact an experienced workers' comp attorney in your area.