Understanding the Statute of Limitations in Workers Compensation Cases

Tony CanataInfo Articles, Uncategorized

Do you know that there is a law that imposes a time frame in which injury claims can be filed? This law is called the statute of limitations, and it applies to both criminal and civil actions. Its purpose is to prevent stale and fraudulent claims from being filed after certain facts have become obscured or evidence has been lost through the passage of time.

Statute of Limitation for Workers Compensation in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations for filing for workers compensation benefits is four years. Chapter 152 under the General Laws of Massachusetts states “for injuries on or after January 1, 1986, a claim must be filed with the insurer within four (4) years of the date an employee becomes aware of the causal connection between their disability and their employment.” Note that the law focuses on the time when the claimant became aware that his injury is work related, which in some cases can be some time after the time of the injury.  This is especially important for claims in which the claimant develops an injury or disease after repeated exposure to a toxic substance at work, or develops an injury over time and only later learns that it was something she was doing at work that caused the problem.

What if the Statute of Limitations on Your Case Lapses?

The statute of limitations reflects an important concept in the law – that parties file timely claims, so that cases go forward while memories are clear and evidence is fresh – and the consequences of running afoul of the rule are severe. If you don’t file your workers compensation claim with the insurer before the statute of limitations lapses, your claim will almost certainly be denied.  Like most areas of the law, there are many nuances and even some exceptions to the basic statute of limitations in a Massachusetts workers’ compensation claim.  To determine when the statute of limitations lapses in a particular case, you’ll need to consult an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.

Department of Industrial Accidents

The Massachusetts’ Department of Industrial Accidents is the state agency responsible for the administration and adjudication of claims brought under the Workers Compensation Act.  Workers’ compensation claims begin with a Conciliation, proceed to a Conference and often require an evidentiary Hearing.  Experienced lawyers understand how to navigate these steps, resolving claims in conciliation where appropriate or taking claims to a full hearing when necessary.  With proper legal representation, you will be in a better position to understand the procedures at the DIA and make the best decisions possible for your situation.

How Soon Should You Talk to an Attorney?

There’s no time to lose—you need to talk to a disability attorney right after your accident, or as soon as possible under the circumstances, so that you can learn about your rights and the specific time limits that apply to your case. If you delay, and the statute of limitations expires on you, you could lose out on much needed compensation to cover your expenses resulting from your injury.

Sources:

Injured Workers’ Frequently Asked Questions, Commonwealth of Massachusetts