All California cases have a time limit on when the matter can be brought to court, known as the Statute of Limitations (SOL). California workers’ compensation claims are no exception to the rule. In order to have the option of legal remedies for a work related injury, a claim it must first meet the deadline to file that has been imposed by California State Law.
Generally, the Statute of Limitation to file a workers’ compensation claim is one year from the date of injury or illness.
Once the Statute has passed, the claim may not have the opportunity of being heard in court and may not garner a positive outcome. The claim must be brought to the attention of the Workers Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) before the Statute of Limitations is met, in order to allow the case a chance at a legal remedy. This important time limit exists in every case.
But just like in other fields of law, California Workers’ Compensation Statute of Limitations may be somewhat flexible in special circumstances. For example, in a cumulative trauma claim, where an injury has occurred over time from doing repetitive work over and over (such as data entry for 8 hours a day for many years), the 1-year Statute of limitations begins immediately the day after the exposure to whatever is causing the trauma ends. So even if an injury began many months or even years ago, but the worker continued to do the same tasks, it may be possible to pursue a cumulative trauma claim once the worker stops working.
There are additional ways to extend the Statute
of Limitations such as:
- When the employer, through their insurance carrier, provides medical treatment to the injured worker.
- This triggers the Statute to extend out to 5 years from the injury date.
- If the injured worker is under the age of 18 at the time of injury the SOL will not begin until the date that the individual reaches the age of majority (18).
- When the injured worker is not aware that they are being caused any harm. This pertains to matters of toxic exposure of any method, the Statute is triggered on the date that the employee discovers the harm.
- In matters where the employee is not provided a DWC-1 Form by their employer when reporting an injury and the employee was not aware of the steps necessary to obtain workers compensation benefits in the state of California.