Why You Need To Act Quickly With Workers Compensation Claims

Host:                   Time is of the essence when it comes to filing a workers’ compensation case, and Katherine Stone from Injury Florida Law is here with why you need to pay attention to those dates.

Katherine:          Yes. If you’re ever going to listen to anything that I say up here, or you’re watching this show, make sure you don’t let your time-lapse. The work comp statute has all kinds of time limits in it. And the first time limit, which is very, very important, is reporting your accident timely.

Host:                   Okay.

Katherine:          Typically it’s 30 days from the date of the accident. Now, if it’s a repetitive trauma type claim or other types of claims, you may get up to 60 days. But generally speaking, it’s 30 days from the date of the accident. Now, you may ask why wouldn’t someone report the accident?

Host:                   Yeah, exactly what I was thinking.

Katherine:          So if you fail to report the accident, okay … Well, let me step back. You have to report the accident to the employer, who should then report it to their work comp insurance company, who should open a claim and get things going, get you to a doctor, whatever.

Katherine:          What happens sometimes is people don’t want to report the claim for fear of retaliation from their employer or their supervisor, and I just caution those people. First, it’s against the law for an employer to retaliate against you. It’s called workers’ comp retaliation. It’s a specific provision in the work comp statute, 440.205, for those who like numbers, and it is a completely separate cause of action than workers’ compensation to get your medical care.

Katherine:          So you can’t even get your case open, you can’t get medical care, you can’t get lost in wages unless you have timely reported it. If you fail to timely report it, and I get this a lot, is they come to me several months later and say, “Oh, well, I told my coworker, Bob.” But Bob has no authority and so it doesn’t get reported. The employer can come in and assert what’s called a notice defense. You didn’t timely give us notice, so we’re not going to provide you coverage.

Host:                   So when you are thinking about these numbers, and again I’m glad that you addressed right out of the gate why people would want to be able to do that. And again, the retaliation. When people are moving forward and they make the claim, are there other time limits that you have?

Katherine:          Yes.

Host:                   Like, “Hey, I told my employer,” but then you’re faced with another deadline.

Katherine:          Then the other call that we get quite often is, “I had a claim, a work comp claim from 2014.”

Katherine:          “Okay. That was the date of the accident. When was the last time you saw a doctor? When was the last time you got a check from workers’ compensation?”

Katherine:          “2016.”

Katherine:          “Well, we’re now in 2019.”

Katherine:          “Well I know, but my issue has flared up again.”

Katherine:          Well, unfortunately, depending on a lot of things, there’s what’s called the statute of limitations. You have two years from the date of the accident to file a petition for benefits. So in other words, if you’ve gone, however … Let’s say you did report the accident to your employer.

Host:                   Yeah, yeah.

Katherine:          Let’s say you filled out their … but for whatever reason, it never gets under workers’ comp. You’ve got two years for someone to file a petition for benefits to keep that case open. Or you have one year from the date you’ve last gotten a benefit through the work comp system. So let’s say you’ve treated for a number of years-

Host:                   Went to those appointments.

Katherine:          Went to all the appointments. And then your case, you’re just kind of on maintenance with the doctor once a year, whatever it may be, and you let that go by one day, your case will close out automatically through the statute of limitations. And there is very little to none that we can do to get that case back open. There are some technical rules that we can look at to see if we can get it back open, but those don’t happen very often.

Host:                   So of course playing by the book, getting someone like yourself to help. What else do people need to keep in mind if they are in a situation where this may be a chronic problem that … because you can’t necessarily look into the future and think that this is going to creep up again, like the example you gave.

Katherine:          It’s always best to make sure that if you have an open and active workers’ comp claim that you at least see your doctor once a year.

Host:                   That keeps it open.

Katherine:          That keeps it open. Don’t wait until the twilight hour. “Oh, I last saw the doctor on December 1st of 2018, so I’m not going to call until November 25th of 2019 to get an appointment, and I can’t see the doctor until December 2nd.”

Host:                   [crosstalk 00:04:39].

Katherine:          Correct.

Host:                   Not going to work.

Katherine:          Just because you’ve made the appointment is not it. You have to actually-

Host:                   Be seen.

Katherine:          … be seen.

Host:                   These were good ones, Katherine. I appreciate your time.

Katherine:          Thanks.

Host:                   Thank you for joining us today. If you have questions for Katherine, see how she can help you with workers’ compensation or anything else, there’s the phone number. There’s the website. All of it is right there on your screen.