Sometimes, timing is everything. In many areas of the law, if a case is not filed within a given time period, the case is mute. The laws that kill cases after a certain time period are called statutes of limitation. Many injured workers wonder how long they have to make a claim before their claim is precluded. It can get a bit tricky with Utah Work Comp Law, but the following is a basic breakdown that should be helpful:
DEADLINES TO KEEP IN MIND:
- Reporting the Injury: You must report your work-related injury or illness to your employer within 180 days (Approximately 6 months) or you may be entirely disqualified from receiving workers compensation benefits. As a practical matter, you really should report your injury as soon as possible. When injuries are not reported the same day that they happen, insurance companies start looking for other potential causes of your injury. Their logic is, “if you were hurt, you would tell someone right away.” When people get hurt at work and they try to tough it out, problems arise. Many cases are made difficult because employees don’t bother to tell their employer about their injury until weeks later. Once you report the injury to your employer, the ball is then somewhat in their court to take a few actions. Always report your injury both verbally and in writing. A good way to do it would be to approach your boss and let them know, then send them a quick email as a follow-up. After that, your employer has 7 days to report your claim to the insurance carrier. The employer or the insurance carrier should then tell you where you can seek initial medical treatment. The report from the employer to the insurance carrier is called a “First Report of Injury.” The doctor will fill out a report for the insurance company as well. It’s called a “Physicians Initial Report of Injury.” You have a right to receive a copy of both of these documents, that way, you know what is being said about your case.
- Submitting Bills: You must submit any medical bill incurred because of your work injury to your work comp insurance carrier within 1 year of the date of service. Your work comp insurance carrier will often see your medical bills before you do, but it’s your responsibility to make sure they get paid. It is also important to remember that unless you are a perm total case, your meds might be cut off if you go any continuous period of three years or more without receiving any medical care related to the injury.
- Application for Hearing: When you have a genuine dispute about how much compensation you are owed, whether it is Temporary Total Disability, Temporary Partial Disability, Permanent Partial Disability, or Permanent Total Disability, you must file an application for a hearing with the labor commission within six (6) years from the date of the injury. It is important to note, however, that you may not have to meet your burden of proof right away. You must be able to meet your burden of proof on the issue within twelve (12) years of the date of the initial injury.
- Other Deadlines: Other, less common deadlines include reimbursement for travel expenses and death benefits. Death claims must be filed within one (1) year of the employee’s death. Travel expenses also must be submitted for reimbursement within one (1) year. Insurance carriers will often make you travel some distance to have medical evaluations done. They will typically pre-pay expenses if asked, but either way, be sure to submit your receipts within a year.
Hopefully this breakdown is helpful. As you can see, an injured worker does have a great deal of time to file with the labor commission. Six years is typically enough time to think over one’s options and decide the best course. If you or a loved one has been hurt at work in Utah, reach out to an experienced Utah Workers Compensation Attorney for help. An initial consultation might be free, and sometimes just understanding your options better can allow you to choose the right course. Statutes of Limitation are construed strictly in Utah and not getting things done in a timely manner can kill your case.