In California, employees are entitled to receive no-fault workers’ compensation insurance coverage from their employer. If an employee is hurt on the job, he/she has the right to file for workers’ compensation benefits regardless of how and why the accident occurred. However, they do not have an unlimited amount of time to bring the case. An injured worker must act before the statute of limitations expires. Here, our Fresno workers’ compensation lawyer offers a brief guide to the statute of limitations in workers’ compensation claims in California.

Injured Workers Should Notify Employers of Injury Within 30 Days

There are proactive steps that injured workers need to take before the statute of limitations becomes an issue in a California workers’ compensation claim. Injured workers are required to notify their employer (report the incident) on time. An employee should report any job-related injury, illness, or medical impairment to the employer as soon as possible. The employee must notify the employer within 30 days. If an employee waits too long to report the issue to the employer, it could undermine their ability to get workers’ compensation benefits.

California Law: A One-Year Statute of Limitations to File for Workers’ Compensation Benefits

In California, there is a one-year statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims. Reporting the injury/illness to the employer is not the equivalent of filing for workers’ compensation benefits. The injured employee still needs to complete and submit the proper workers’ compensation claim forms. All forms should be submitted within one year of the date of the accident. If the injured employee does not file for workers’ compensation benefits on time, the employer and/or the insurance company could raise a statute of limitations defense. This could mean the denial of workers’ compensation benefits that an injured employee otherwise would have been entitled to under the law.

Determining the Date of Injury Can Be Complicated (Cumulative Trauma Claims)

When does the one-year statute of limitations clock start to run in a workers’ compensation case? It depends on the underlying circumstances. In some cases, it is relatively straightforward. As an example, there is generally little dispute over the date when a fall accident happened. However, for cumulative trauma claims—those being injuries and medical impairments that occurred with a gradual onset—the starting date for the statute of limitations is less clear. Under California law (Cal. Lab. Code § 5412), a cumulative trauma claim is still subject to a one-year statute of limitations—but the clock does not begin to run until:

  1. The worker first suffers disability; and
  2. The worker knew or should have known of their disability’s “industrial causation” (work-relatedness).

Get Help From a Workers’ Compensation Defense Lawyer in Central California

At Yrulegui & Roberts, our Fresno workers’ compensation defense attorneys are diligent, experienced advocates for insurers, claims administrators, and employers. If you have any questions about defending a workers’ compensation claim, our legal team is available to help. Contact us by phone or connect with us online for a confidential consultation. We provide workers’ compensation defense representation throughout Central California.