When you have a workers’ compensation claim in Pennsylvania, you need to be aware of the statute of limitations. This tells you how much time you have to file a workers’ compensation claim after you become injured at work or experience symptoms of an occupational illness. In Pennsylvania the statute of limitations for a workers’ compensation claim is three years. If you file a workers’ compensation claim and your claim is denied, then you have to file a Claim Petition within three years of the date of the injury or onset of symptoms or you will lose your right to benefits.
Specific Time Limits of Workers’ Compensation Claims in PA
As long as you’ve given notice of your injury to your employer by the deadline for doing so and as long as you have filed your Claim Petition within the statute of limitations, then there are other more specific deadlines that may apply to your case. If your employer has a valid panel of physicians who are designated to treat injuries that occur in the workplace, then you will have to see one of these physicians for at least 90 days. If you have a particular type of injury, caused by a particular work environment, there may be other time limits that apply as well. Consider the following:
- Loss of hearing due to exposure to hazardous noise: You have three years to file a claim from the date of your last exposure to hazardous noise.
- Occupational disease contracted through exposure to hazardous toxins: You have to prove that any damages resulted from the occupational disease within 300 weeks/about six years of the date of your last exposure to the hazardous toxins.
Applicable Statute of Limitations Exceptions
There are some statute of limitations exceptions that might be applicable to your case. In some cases, there may be compensation benefits paid in lieu of workers’ compensation. If this is the case, then the injured worker has three years from the date of the final payment to file a formal claim.
If the employer has made payments on medical expenses related to a workplace injury, then the three-year statute of limitations is tolled (paused), as long as those payments are made in an effort to satisfy workers’ compensation requirements.
In some cases the employer or workers’ compensation insurance carrier can deceive the injured worker into believing the claim has been accepted, or deceive the injured worker about what types of injuries can be claimed. There are also situations where the worker does not realize the correlation between the injury or illness and the work environment. In these cases, the statute of limitations runs from the time of discovery or from the time that the employee should have become aware of the existence of the injury or illness, it’s relationship to the work environment, and/or any deceit that may have occurred.
Contacting an Attorney
When you are facing a workers’ compensation claim, it helps to have the benefit of professional legal advice and representation on your side. A consultation with a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney is usually free, and there is no obligation to hire the attorney you receive a free consultation from. Contact an attorney as soon as you are able to. Some attorneys will even come to you at home, in the hospital, or wherever else is most convenient for your needs.
What if I had a preexisting condition before my work injury?