Under New York’s workers compensation laws, there are certain deadlines that must be met in order for an injured worker or the family of a worker who died as a result of their injuries to claim benefits. These deadlines are called “statutes of limitations” and anytime these deadlines are missed, they put your potential claim at risk.
Time frames for reporting injuries
When you are injured on the job, the best policy is to report the accident to your immediate superior as soon as possible after the accident. New York law requires workers to report injuries within 30 days of the occurrence. It is important to note that under the law, workers have up to two years to file a claim if an injury has caused other damage. For example, if you slip and fall on the floor because of a wet surface, you may report the accident but may return immediately to work. If you subsequently develop back pain or another pain as a result of the injury, then filing a workers compensation claim is possible.
In the event you are suffering an injury or illness that is work-related such as repetitive stress injuries, illness caused by exposure to harmful chemicals or other conditions that are not easily diagnosed, you have up to two years from the date “you should have known”.
Specifically the rules offered by the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board state:
- Two years from the date of the disabled worker’s disability; or
- Two years from the time the disabled worker knew or should have known that the disease was due to the nature of employment.
The best policy to follow is simple: Anytime you are injured on the job, regardless of how minor the injury may seem to be, you should report it immediately. This not only protects your employer, but it also protects your rights under New York’s workers compensation laws. Additionally, if you are diagnosed with any condition that could be the result of a work-related issue this should be reported immediately, even if you do not file a workers compensation claim.
Special rules for hearing loss
One of the notable exceptions to the above-stated time limits applies to workers who suffer job-related hearing loss. Hearing loss is not always noticeable until after you have been removed from the situation causing the damage. Occupational hearing loss may be reported up to three months after the worker is away from the noise or three months after leaving the company where the hearing loss occurred. In these cases, if a worker does not discover the hearing loss right away, they have up to 90 day of learning about work-related hearing loss to file a workers compensation claim, even if it extends past the typical two-year limit.
Unlike a typical death-related personal injury lawsuit, in most cases, family members must follow the time limits set by the Workers’ Compensation Board. This means if an injury resulted in the worker’s death, the family must file a claim within two years. If a worker died because of a job-related illness, in most cases, it is important to contact a worker’s compensation attorney immediately for assistance after it is reported to the worker’s employer. Keep in mind, a spouse or child of a worker killed on the job may be able to collect death benefits.
Why reporting in a timely manner is important
When you are injured on the job, even what may seem like a minor injury at the time, you are jeopardizing your rights to collect benefits for the injury. This means that should you later have symptoms that develop, your failure to report an injury could mean your claim for benefits is denied, even if the problem began at work.
Workers compensation laws are extremely complicated and often, workers are uncertain what their rights and responsibilities are under the law. Any worker who has suffered any work-related injury or believes they have an illness that may be job-related should report their condition to their employer immediately. Once you have done this, it is typically a good idea to contact a workers compensation attorney, particularly if your initial claim is denied by the insurance company. While you have the obligation to meet certain requirements for reporting your illness or injury, your employer also has reporting responsibilities to their insurer and to the New York Workers Compensation Board. Keep in mind, even if you are involved in a seemingly minor incident such as slipping, banging your head or banging your knees, report it to your employer immediately. Protect your rights under the law.