How Long do I Have to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Generally speaking, workers injured in Delaware have two years from the date of injury to get their workers’ compensation claim accepted – this is called the statute of limitations. However, the statute of limitations for occupational diseases is one year from the date of injury. If your Employer does not willingly acknowledge the claim within the applicable statute of limitations, you must file a petition with the Delaware Workers’ Compensation Department of Labor. Failure to get your claim accepted or file a petition within the statute of limitations period may result in a complete bar of recovery.
While you have two years to get your injury accepted, it is in your best interest to report the injury to your Employer as soon as it happens. Additionally, it is important to seek medical attention soon after your injury. What may seem like a minor injury at first could later manifest into something more serious. It is important to seek medical care to properly treat and document your injury.
A claim number does not mean your claim is accepted. Additionally, just because your Employer has paid for benefits does not necessarily mean that your claim is accepted. Employers can pay benefits “IN DISPUTE,” which does not meet the statutory obligation of acceptance. Therefore, it is recommended that an Agreement as to Compensation is filed with the Industrial Accident Board within the statute of limitations period to make sure that your claim is not barred.
Once your workers’ compensation claim is formally accepted, the statute of limitations is extended to five years from the date of the last payment. In other words, each time an Employer (through its workers’ compensation carrier) pays a medical bill or indemnity payment with prejudice (i.e. they feel compelled to make the payment), your statute of limitations period is extended an additional five years.
If you were injured at work and want to make sure your benefits are protected, please contact one of our experienced workers compensation attorneys for a free consultation at (302) 565-6100.