How long a workers comp claim can stay open depends on your state’s workers comp laws, the benefits you’re receiving, and your workers’ comp insurance policy. This can range anywhere from a few months to infinity. But in general, your workers’ comp claim will end once you agree to a settlement.
In Florida, for instance, the Statute of Limitations for workers comp claims is one year if you are injured on or after January 1, 1994. This means that your claim will be closed a year after the date of your last medical treatment or compensation payment.
However, it’s not uncommon for employers to say that your claim is already closed even if it isn’t. Or that you won’t receive anymore benefits if you’ve already claimed workers comp.
As you will learn later, this isn’t exactly true. There are instances where you can file for additional benefits even after receiving workers compensation.
Unfortunately, many injured workers tend to fall for this. They abandon their claim thus missing out on benefits that they’re legally entitled to.
To help you avoid falling prey to this too, we put together this guide to give you a comprehensive answer on how long can a workers comp claim stay open.
When Should You File a Workers Comp Claim?
You should file a workers comp claim as soon as you can or as soon as you’ve known your injury or illness was caused by work. That’s because most states have a set time limit on reporting work-related injuries.
In Florida, you only have 30 days from the date of the accident to report your injury. Failure to do so can lead your claim to get denied.
However, according to Florida’s Statute of Limitations, you have up to 2 years to file a petition for benefits. This starts from the date you knew or should have known that the injury or illness is work-related.
Workers Comp Time Limits
First off, workers’ compensation benefits come in different types. Each with different time limits. So to determine how long your claim can stay open, we need to look at the time limits of each benefit.
Wage Loss Benefits
For the purposes of calculating wage loss compensation, work-related disabilities are classified into four:
- permanent total disability
- permanent partial disability
- temporary total disability
- temporary partial disability
How long you can receive wage loss benefits will depend on whether your disability is permanent or temporary.
As the name suggests, permanent disabilities usually entitle you to wage loss benefits until your retirement or death. While wage loss compensation for temporary disabilities usually lasts a few weeks or a couple of years depending on your injury.
In Florida, workers comp for temporary disabilities can last until you reach Maximum medical improvement. But if you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) or go back to work before that, your wage loss benefits will stop.
Permanent total disability benefits may also stop if you got employed again or your insurance carrier can prove that you are physically capable of working within a 50-mile radius from your home.
In most states, the workers comp law requires your employer or insurance provider to pay for all workers comp-related medical bills. This includes surgeries, prescriptions, therapies, and any other necessary medical treatments.
Florida law specifically states that:
“the employer shall furnish to the employee such medically necessary remedial treatment, care, and attendance for such period as the nature of the injury or the process of recovery may require.”
In layman’s terms, this says that your employer should pay for medical costs for as long as necessary for you to recover. If you need to take medications on a permanent basis, your employer should also pay for those prescriptions.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
As mentioned, the Statute of Limitations in Florida states that:
- the Petition for Benefits must be filed within two years after you’ve known or should have known of the injury
- a workers comp claim will only remain open for a year after the date of the last medical benefit or you receive compensation benefits.
However, there are exceptions to this rule. This includes:
- If the injured worker is mentally incompetent.
- If the claimant is not old enough to represent themselves in legal proceedings.
- If the employer or insurance provider lied to or mislead the injured worker.
- If there is doubt as to the employer-employee relationship of both parties. In this case, the limitations period will only begin to run once the employer-employee relationship is proven.
- If the employer or insurance carrier has failed to inform the injured worker of their rights.
If you’re not sure until when your workers comp claim will stay open, it’s high time to consult an experienced workers compensation lawyer like Victor Malca.
VICTOR MALCA – Florida Workers Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney
Victor Malca P.A. has over 27 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success when fighting for his clients puts him among the most trusted workers’ compensation attorney’s in Florida. He specializes in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claiming lost social security disability benefits.
Book a free consultation today. Our unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges are recognized by our past clients across South Florida.
About The Author
Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.