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Time Limit to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim

July 31, 2023 Legal Team

In California, injured workers have a limited timeframe within which they must report the injury to their employer and file a formal workers’ compensation claim. The specific deadlines are as follows:

Report the Injury to the Employer

A work-related injury must be reported to an employer within 30 days of the date of the injury or the date you discovered the occupational illness. Failing to report the injury within this timeframe may result in the loss of your right to claim workers’ compensation benefits.

File a Formal Workers’ Compensation Claim

After notifying your employer of the injury, you have one year from the date of the injury or the date of the last provision of benefits to file a formal workers’ compensation claim with the California Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC). This formal claim is usually filed using a DWC-1 claim form.

It’s crucial to adhere to these time limits. If you fail to report the injury or file a claim within the specified deadlines, you may lose your eligibility for benefits. There can be exceptions to these time limits in certain circumstances, such as if the injury was not immediately apparent or if there was a reasonable excuse for the delay.

Still, it is always best to report the injury and file a claim as soon as possible to avoid complications. If you have questions or your claim was denied, speak with an experienced Los Angeles workers’ compensation lawyer.

How Long Can I Stay on Workers’ Comp?

The duration you can stay on workers’ compensation in California depends on the specific circumstances of each case, including the severity of your injury or illness, recovery progress, and adherence to treatment plans. For example:

Temporary Disability Benefits

Temporary disability benefits can last for up to 104 weeks (approximately two years) within a five-year period from the date of the injury. However, some severe injuries may qualify for extended benefits for up to 240 weeks (about four and a half years).

Return to Work or Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)

If you recover from your injury or reach a point of maximum medical improvement (MMI), where further medical treatment is not expected to substantially improve your condition, your eligibility for temporary disability benefits may end. At this stage, you may transition to other types of benefits if necessary, such as permanent disability benefits or vocational rehabilitation.

Permanent Disability Benefits

The duration of these benefits will depend on the extent of your disability and its impact on your future earning capacity, which is expressed as a percentage. A program schedule corresponding to your impairment percentage will dictate how long you can stay on permanent disability.

For example, if you are given a 50% impairment rating, you can receive benefits for 275 weeks.

Vocational Rehabilitation

Injured or ill employees can receive up to two years of vocational rehabilitation benefits with a maximum expenditure of $16,000. However, employees must engage in the rehabilitation process and genuinely try to find suitable employment.