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If you’ve been hurt at work, chances are you’ve been faced with some medical bills for your care and lost wages. To help compensate you for these expenses, you are entitled to workers compensation.
Workers compensation can pay you for any wages you lost because you missed work for an injury, pay for your treatment, and even give you compensation for retraining for a new job.
But when should you pursue your workers compensation case? You don’t want to look as if you’re just out to get money from your injury, but you’re also staring at an ever-growing pile of bills in the wake of your accident.
Here’s what you need to know about the timeline for your workers compensation case:
Notify Your Supervisor Immediately
Depending on the laws in your state, you may have a very short window of time to notify your employer that you believe your illness or injury was work-related. Some states say you need to give notice immediately or as soon as is practical, while others give a specific timeline. In many states, this timeline ranges from 10 days to 90 days after your accident.
If you were injured in an accident on-site and had to be taken by ambulance, do not assume that your supervisor knows.
Even if your supervisor was with you right after your accident, it is still a good idea to notify them as soon as possible just to cover your bases.
Notice can take the form of a phone call, email, written letter or report, or even a text message. For documentation purposes, it’s best to provide your employer with notice of your illness or injury in writing.
In the case of an illness or injury that cannot be tied to a specific accident, but that you believe is a result of working conditions (For example, carpal tunnel from repeated stress, or cancer due to long-term exposure to toxic substances), you need to notify your employer as soon as possible after your diagnosis.
File Your Claim
While you don’t need to immediately file a workers compensation claim, it’s a good idea to file one as quickly as possible to protect your rights.
As with the regulations on employer notification, the amount of time you have to file your claim varies from state to state. On average, you have from one to three years after the date of your injury (or the date an illness or injury was tied to conditions of your employment) to file a claim.
In some states, you have longer. These time limits also can be extended in cases where you had a serious injury that required ongoing and prolonged medical treatment, where you were quarantined for the health and safety of others, or you were comatose.
Check the regulations in your state, or consult with a workers compensation attorney, to determine how long you have to file your case.
Hiring an Attorney
Having a workers compensation attorney is not absolutely necessary in order to pursue a workers compensation claim. You can manage the entire process on your own if you would prefer.
However, there are a wide variety of deadlines, special forms, and other considerations that come with a workers compensation case. Missing even one deadline can cause your entire case to be dropped, meaning you don’t get the compensation you deserve.
It’s best to at least meet with an attorney to discuss your case and determine whether or not you’re comfortable representing yourself. Many workers compensation attorneys work on contingency, meaning their help costs you nothing up front; instead, they take a portion of your eventual settlement as their fees.
Workers Compensation Attorney in Washington, D.C.
At Lopez Law Firm, we work hard to make sure you get the compensation you deserve for your work-related injuries. We help guide you through the entire process, giving you peace of mind and skilled representation. Schedule your consultation today!