You have just thirty days to report your injury or illness in California.
On-the-job injuries can happen in any number of ways, from slips and falls to exposure to chemicals to repetitive motion injuries. While we can’t always prevent workplace accidents, illnesses and injuries, there is a system in place to protect workers who have been hurt on the job. The workers’ compensation system is a type of insurance that provides medical benefits and disability benefits (if necessary) to employees who have been hurt while at work. While the system is incredibly beneficial in ensuring that hurt workers have access to medical treatment and care, it does have certain limitations — including a strict time limit on filing claims.
In California, employees have a short window of time to report their on-the-job injuries.This includes any type of event, from a catastrophic accident to a minor incident. If you do not report your claim within this time frame — known as a statute of limitations — then you may be barred from seeking help for your injuries.
California’s Thirty Day Statue of Limitations
Under California Labor Code Section 4500, you must report your claim to your employer within thirty (30) days of becoming aware of the injury or illness. This means that you must tell your employer that you are injured or ill and that you intend to seek workers’ compensation benefits. If you do not report your injury or illness within this time frame, then you may not be able to seek any type of benefits.
In many cases, it is obvious when a person became aware of an injury or illness, such as in the case of a construction accident or a fall. A person was hurt by a single event, and the clock starts running on that day because they were aware that they were hurt. However, other types of workplace injuries and illnesses are not so obvious. For example, if you develop carpal tunnel syndrome from using your computer, there is not one day that you can point to when the injury occurred; it developed over time, from daily use of your computer over months or years. So instead of focusing on when the injury occurred, it becomes a question of when you became aware of the injury or illness. You may have noticed that your wrist was sore or that you were experiencing tingling in your wrist or arm, but didn’t know it was related to work. Only after seeing a doctor did you become aware of the nature of the injury — and that it was related to your work. This could be the day that you became aware of the injury or illness, and the date that the clock starts on the thirty day window to report.
This statute of limitations highlights the importance of seeking prompt medical treatment for your injuries or illnesses and of reporting potential workplace injuries as soon as possible. You should inform your employer promptly of your potential claim, and should also tell your doctor that you believe that your injury or illness is work-related.
If you have suffered an injury or an illness that you believe is related to your work, don’t hesitate to act. Waiting to file a claim or a report with your employer can mean losing your right to benefits, including medical treatment and disability payments. Contact the skilled workers’ compensation attorneys of PLBSH to learn more about how to protect your rights. We offer free initial consultations, and in many situations, we do not charge a fee for workers’ compensation cases until after you have won. Call (800) 435-7542 or email email@example.com our office today to schedule a consultation!