The statute of limitations in Florida for workers’ compensation claims require that a lawsuit be filed within two years after you discover your work-related illness or injury. All legal actions have a statute of limitations, and this one is designed to give employers a reasonable time period in which an employee is entitled to receive benefits.
An employer should not be expected to wait forever to have a claim brought against it for workers’ compensation, but there must be a reasonable amount of time for injured employees to exercise
their rights. The statute of limitations does not begin to run until the injured employee becomes aware of his or her injury. To ensure the statute of limitations is not used against you as a defense to your claim for benefits, makes sure to document the date of your injury, as that will establish a clear record of the accident date and statute of limitations period.
There is a second important running of the clock to be aware of, which dictates your workers’ compensation claim statute of limitations runs one year after the last date you receive either medical or wage benefits for an injury. A failure to file a Petition for Benefits within a year after the last medical treatment or wage benefit means your claim will expire. The only exception to this is when the employer or insurance carrier fails to warn an employee of their legal rights under the workers’ compensation system, even if it is unintentional.
If you can show that the lapse was unintentional, then the employer must show otherwise. To avoid this situation, most employers provide employees with a pamphlet created by the Florida Department of Financial Services, which clearly explains the statute of limitations. However, even that might not be enough if an actual person does not explain to the injured employee the statute of limitations, instead of just forwarding a piece of paper.
It is important to remember there are three relevant limitation periods regarding your claims for workers’ compensation, and allowing any one of them to run can bar you from obtaining coverage for your injuries. The three separate limitation periods are:
- An injured employee has only 30 days to report an injury or illness to an employer once it is discovered;
- An injured employee has two years after the date of discovery to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits; and
- Your eligibility for benefits may also be eliminated one year from the date you
last received a wage replacement check or approved medical treatment.
The more meticulous records you keep, the less likely you are to have to worry about bumping against the statute of limitations. It is important to not ever wait too long, however, to enforce your rights. This is true in the workers’ compensation context and in most every other context, as well.