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How Much Time Do I Have to File for Workers’ Comp After an Injury?

July 24, 2023

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After a work injury, it’s important to file for workers’ compensation as soon as possible for two reasons.

First, you need benefits to cover your lost paychecks and your medical bills. The sooner you apply for workers’ compensation, the sooner you can start getting those benefits.

Second, you need to meet the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s (BWC) deadline for applying for benefits. If you miss the deadline, you’re ineligible for benefits, regardless of how much evidence you have showing your injury or illness happened at or because of work.

If you were recently injured at work, keep these deadlines and reasons for filing ASAP in mind.

The Statute of Limitations for Workers’ Compensation Claims is One Year

You have one year to file for workers’ compensation benefits after a work injury. However, you should never even get close to the deadline for a workers’ compensation claim to file for benefits!

Waiting until just before the deadline to apply not only makes it much more difficult to get your application approved, but it also means going a long time without the benefits you need to keep up with your expenses. It’s best to formally apply for benefits within just a few days of your injury occurring, and an experienced Ohio workers’ compensation lawyer can help you make that happen.

The BWC Recommends Reporting Injuries to Employers ASAP

When injured workers apply for workers’ compensation benefits, the dates their injuries occurred and the dates their employers filled out accident reports are important evidence. The BWC is much more likely to approve applications for injuries that occurred and were then reported within 24 hours or even on the same day than it is to approve applications where there are several days or even weeks between the injuries and accident reports.

The longer you wait to report your injury, the more skeptical your employer and the BWC will be of it happening at your workplace. Unlike disability insurance, workers’ compensation only covers work-related injuries. Anytime there’s a significant gap in time between when an injury occurred and when it was reported, employers and the BWC become more likely to believe it was a pre-existing injury or that it occurred outside of work.

Evidence Can Disappear if You Wait Too Long to Apply for Benefits

Workers’ compensation in Ohio is a no-fault system, which means injured workers can get benefits even if they contributed to or accidentally caused their injuries (with a few exceptions). Unlike personal injury claims, injured workers don’t need to prove someone else’s negligence caused their injuries—but they do need to prove their injuries happened at work.

If you wait too long to file a workers’ compensation claim, evidence showing your injury happened at work may be lost, destroyed, or discarded. For example, surveillance footage at your job site showing your accident and injury may be overwritten or deleted, or a co-worker who witnessed your injury may quit or get fired, and that can make obtaining their witness statement difficult or even impossible.

The Sooner You Apply, the Sooner You Can Appeal (if Necessary)

Unfortunately, not all workers’ compensation claims are successful on the first attempt. It’s common for first-time applicants to get denied due to mistakes, oversights, and omissions in their applications. To reduce the number of fraudulent claims, the BWC is notoriously strict when reviewing applications, which means many valid applicants don’t get the benefits they need on their first tries.

Thankfully, you can appeal the BWC’s decision. However, appealing your denied application means waiting several more weeks or even months. That’s why it’s important to apply for benefits as soon as possible after the initial injury to prevent even longer delays if you need to appeal the BWC’s decision.

Call an Ohio Workers’ Compensation Attorney Right Away After Your Injury

At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, we know the challenges associated with workers’ compensation applications. The stress of needing to start and finish your application in just a matter of days—not to mention making sure it’s free from mistakes or missing paperwork—can be overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to recover from a painful injury.

Our legal team can quickly compile evidence, complete all paperwork, and ensure your application is submitted as soon as possible after you contact our firm. We work hard to ensure the BWC knows that our clients deserve their benefits, and we don’t give them any reason to reject the applications we build, either.

Let us take some of the stress of the workers’ compensation application process off your shoulders. Contact us right away after your work accident. We want to put our long track record of success and experience with the BWC to work for you.

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