If you are injured or become ill because of your work activities, you are likely entitled to Worker’s Compensation benefits. Benefits include payment of medical care and for a percentage of your wage loss. However, to qualify, you must report the injury within a specified amount of time. Referred to as the Statute of Limitations, this time requirement varies from state to state. In Arizona you have one year from the date your injury was or should have been known to you to file the claim; however, you are also required to make a prompt reporting of the injury to your employer. The employer and/or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier may be asserted as an affirmative defense to the claim. The worker has the burden of proof to show that the failure to provide a prompt report has not prejudiced the employer or its carrier.
With respect to filing the claim at the Industrial Commission or Arizona within 1 year, there are limited exceptions to the rule that allow for the late filing of the claim.
An Injury is not Immediately Obvious
Sometimes a period may pass before an injury becomes apparent, in which case the statute of limitations would begin on the date the injured worker did know or should have known of the medical condition/impairment. For example, if you fall at work, but experience no pain until a month later when you suddenly develop symptoms and are diagnosed with nerve damage due to the fall, then the statute of limitations arguably would begin to run on the date the symptoms first become known and the worker had some reason to know of the relationship between the medical condition and the work activities.
Your Injury Renders You Unable to Report It
If an injury results in the injured worker becoming incompetent, such as being in a coma, then you may be eligible for an extended deadline. If you are in a coma or otherwise incapacitated for a period of time due to a work-related injury or illness, then you would not be able to report it in a timely manner. However, if an individual is appointed as the worker’s guardian or conservator, the time would run from the date of the appointment.
Your Employer or the Workers’ Compensation Carrier Representative Told You That it Is/Was Not Necessary to File the Claim
If your employer, a representative of its workers’ compensation insurance carrier or a representative of the Industrial Commission tells you that it isn’t necessary to file the claim, you may be able to extend the time to file the claim, so long as you reasonably relied upon the representation after taking reasonable steps to confirm the information is accurate.
Ignorance of the Reporting and Filing Requirements Are Not Valid Excuses
Ignorance of the reporting or filing requirements do not serve as a basis to extend the time limits. You are expected to know the law. However, if your employer failed to provide proper notification of your right to reject workers’ compensation coverage, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the employer for the injuries sustained.
In every case, you should immediately report your injury to your employer as soon as you are aware of it. If you put it off, it is likely to result in a denied claim. You should promptly report the injury to your supervisor or human resources department or otherwise follow the reporting rules established by your employer. You should also make sure to advise each doctor you see to evaluate your injury of the injury and complete a Worker’s and Physician’s Report of Injury (Industrial Commission of Arizona Form 102 – https://www.azica.gov/forms/claims0102 ) at the doctor’s office when you are initially seen. Alternatively, you can complete a Worker’s Report of injury (Form 407) and submit to the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA).
If you’ve submitted your claim late due to any of these scenarios and are denied, you will want to seriously consider contacting a lawyer. A lawyer can provide valuable assistance in ensuring that you have the best possible chance to receiving the benefits that you are entitled to.
Contact Schiffman Law Office today at (602) 638-2864 for help regarding your claim. Alan M. Schiffman has handled thousands of clients claims over his 45+ years of practice.