We like to warn people about various tactics that the insurance companies use to deter workers from pursuing a claim for benefits. A lot of what they try to pull works on injured employees because they have never been in this type of situation before and they don’t know what’s normal.
If the insurance company tells you that your claim is closed, that’s not normal. Your claim closes when you sign a settlement agreement giving up your rights to future benefits. If you haven’t signed a settlement, then your claim probably isn’t closed. It might be stalled for one reason or another, or “closed” according to some internal insurance company rule, but that doesn’t mean it’s over.
It’s good to know the various deadlines in a workers’ compensation claim. Legal deadlines are often referred to as statutes of limitation. The statute of limitations for filing a claim for a work injury is three years from the date of your injury, or, two years from the last time you received benefits, whichever of these two dates is later.
If you have a repetitive trauma injury that developed over time, your date of injury is less clear, but you’ll still have one. Typically, the date of injury for these cases is the date on which you knew or should have known that your injury was work related. This might be the date you saw your doctor and he or she gave you a diagnosis and attributed your injury to your job duties.
When thinking about deadlines, always be sure to get medical treatment first. Your health should be your priority. Next, the law requires you to notify your employer of a work injury within 45 days. It’s always a good idea to do this in writing in case there is a dispute later on about your compliance with this requirement.
Sometimes the insurance company will approve you for benefits, agreeing that your injury was work related, and start payment of your benefits without you ever filing a claim. That’s great, but we always recommend filing a claim anyway. If there is a dispute about your benefits, you can request a hearing in front of an arbitrator to get a ruling on the dispute. Having a claim already on file means that you can get this hearing sooner.