Workers’ Compensation Statute Of Limitations And Prior Claims
Wisconsin workers’ compensation claims have an expiration date, just like anything else in the legal world. You aren’t granted an infinite amount of time in which to resolve the claim. Neither are you granted unfettered license to have a prior claim re-opened. The state has very specific laws regarding time limits. These are know as the statute of limitations.
The workers’ compensation attorneys at Lein Law Offices in Wisconsin are committed to helping you obtain benefits in a timely manner.
The statute of limitations on workers’ compensation claims used to be 12 years. However, that changed for traumatic injuries with an onset date of March 2016 or later. Changes made by legislators that year to Wis. Stat. § 102.17(4) shortened that statutory time limit from 12 years to 6 years. For occupational diseases, the statute of limitations remains 12 years.
Notice Of Injury In Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation
Although you may technically have 6 or 12 years to formally file a claim, this does not mean it’s in your best interest to delay. In fact, there are immediate actions you need to take after a work injury, illness or discovery of its causes.
Wis. Stat § 102.12 spells out notice of injury requirements and exceptions. For instance, no claim for compensation can be maintained unless actual notice is given to the employer within 30 days of either the occurrence of injury or within 30 days of when the employee knew or ought to have known the nature of his/ her disability and the fact that it was work-related. This should be done in writing if possible. If the employer doesn’t have any representative designated by workplace signs/ posters to whom such conditions should be reported, then simply reporting it to a supervisor is sufficient.
A claim isn’t necessarily time-barred if you don’t provide this notice within 30 days, as long as you can show the employer wasn’t misled by this absence of notice.
In no case can you file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits in Wisconsin if you haven’t reported the injury to employer within two years. That means if you haven’t reported it in that window, you lose any right to collect benefits. Know that the longer you wait to report the injury or disease to your employer, the higher the risk your claim will be denied. Your employer may be able to successfully assert the delay was unnecessary and resulted in unfair prejudice.
When you file this notice, you need to include:
- When and where accident occurred;
- How you were hurt;
- Any witnesses to the accident;
- Any symptoms you are experiencing.
These reports need to be as accurate as possible. These reports are often used to help employers to discount or dispute claims.
Onset Of Traumatic Injury Or Occupational Disease
An important element of which to take note is the onset of one’s physical or mental injuries. There are two basic types of work injuries: traumatic or accidental injuries and occupational diseases.
A traumatic injury is one caused by an unexpected and unforeseen event that was of an accidental nature or an unexpected result of routine performance of one’s duties. Occupational diseases are the result of appreciable exposure to routine duties that is material to the contributing cause in the onset or progression of a disease. For traumatic injuries, the “onset” is typically the date of the accident.
As noted in the 2002 Wisconsin Appeals Court decision in Virginia Sur. Co., Inc. v. Wisconsin Labor and Industry Review Com’n, the date of injury in occupational disease cases is understood to mean when an employee first suffers wage loss as the result of condition, which must be due to the symptoms of the disease.
How Do I Know My Injury Is Work-Related?
For a work injury or occupational disease to be compensable, Wis. Stat. § 102.03(1) stipulates that an injury must occur while employee is performing services growing out of and incidental to employment. This will involve determining the time, place and circumstances of the accident/ exposure.
It’s worth pointing out that Wisconsin workers’ compensation law has always liberally construed the meaning of the term “in the course of employment,” and there is a presumption an injury/ ailment was work-related when it occurs on the job site or when occurring in the performance of regular duties. But compensation isn’t limited to those circumstances, so it’s important to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Wisconsin as soon as injury occurs.