If you suffer an injury or illness at work in Pennsylvania, you can file a workers’ compensation claim to pursue financial benefits if you are a qualifying worker. This type of claim does not require you to prove that someone else is at fault for your injury to receive a settlement check. However, you must comply with all of Pennsylvania’s workers’ comp laws to have a valid claim. This includes the statute of limitations.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
“Statute of limitations” is legalese for a deadline. All states impose statutes of limitations on civil claims to encourage timely filing by claimants. Statutes of limitations are in place to prevent the spoliation or loss of evidence by waiting too long to file. It also keeps things more just by requiring a plaintiff to act swiftly to bring a legal claim against a defendant rather than allowing the claimant to wait as long as he or she wishes.
It is essential to know your statute of limitations and obey the time limit on your claim. If you miss your statute of limitations, you will most likely have it rejected by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor. Not many exceptions to the rule are permitted. However, if you have a valid reason or your situation qualifies as an exception, you may still have the right to file a claim for your work injury. A Pittsburgh workers’ compensation attorney at Dallas W. Hartman P.C. can help you determine your eligibility.
What Is the Statute of Limitations on a Pennsylvania Workers’ Comp Claim?
In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations on filing a workers’ compensation claim is three years from the date of the incident that caused your injury or illness or from the date of your loved one’s death, in most cases. However, you must report your injury or illness to your employer within at least 120 days. It is best to report your injury within 21 days, as this will result in being awarded financial compensation as of the date of your injury. Past the 21-day mark, you will only receive financial benefits from the date that you reported the injury.
There are certain exceptions to the workers’ comp statute of limitations. First, there is the discovery rule, which states that if you failed to discover your harm right away, you will generally have three years from the date of reasonable discovery to file. Second, there is an exception for hearing loss that results from long-term exposure to hazardous levels of noise at work. In this scenario, you have three years from your last exposure to the hazardous noise.
Third, if you were diagnosed with a disease after being exposed to a hazardous or toxic substance at work, your disability and related lost wages must occur within 300 weeks (about six years) of your last exposure to the hazardous toxin. This could apply to your case if you were exposed to asbestos in the workplace, for example, but were not diagnosed with an asbestos injury until several years later.
Is the Deadline In A Workers’ Comp Claim the Same as a Personal Injury Claim?
Different types of civil claims in Pennsylvania come with their own statutes of limitations, including personal injury lawsuits. Filing a personal injury lawsuit instead of or in addition to a workers’ comp claim in Pennsylvania could result in greater financial compensation being paid for your injuries and related losses.
You may have the right to file a lawsuit against your employer if he or she was negligent, and you have not yet accepted a workers’ comp settlement. Otherwise, you could potentially file both types of claims if someone other than your employer is to blame, such as a contractor or the manufacturer of a defective workplace machinery.
The statute of limitations on a personal injury claim is not the same as a workers’ comp claim in Pennsylvania. Rather than having three years, you have only two years to file this type of lawsuit under state law. The discovery rule also applies to these types of cases, however, and may extend your filing deadline.
Speak with a Pittsburgh personal injury attorney as soon as possible about a workers’ compensation claim in Pennsylvania to avoid missing your statute of limitations. Contact us today to find out how an attorney at Dallas W. Hartman P.C. can help with your claim.