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How Long Do I Have to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in California?

Navigating the workers’ compensation system in California can be a difficult experience to handle on your own. One crucial aspect to comprehend is the deadline you must adhere to when filing your claim. Missing these deadlines could result in a loss of benefits, making it important to be knowledgeable about these timelines and take timely action. To give you the best chance of receiving workers’ compensation benefits, it’s recommended that you work with an experienced Los Angeles workers’ compensation attorney, but you should first familiarize yourself with some of the important deadlines. Here are the ones you need to be aware of:

The 30-Day Deadline: Reporting Your Injury

The first deadline to be aware of is 30 days from the date of your workplace accident or the discovery of your work-related injury. Within this timeframe, you must formally notify your employer about the incident and any resulting injuries you sustained. While it’s best to report the issue as soon as possible, you must do so within this 30-day window.

Failing to notify your employer within the 30-day deadline can lead to a loss of the right to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Ensure you inform your employer in writing, including details of the accident, your injuries, and any witnesses who were present.

The One-Year Deadline: Filing Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

The second crucial deadline in the California workers’ compensation process is one year from the date of your accident or the discovery of your injury. Within this period, you must file a workers’ compensation claim with the California Workers’ Compensation Board. Missing this deadline can potentially bar you from receiving benefits altogether.

To file a claim within the one-year deadline, you’ll need to complete a DWC-1 form, which should be provided by your employer. If you’re unsure how to complete the paperwork or encounter any hurdles during the process, consulting with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is recommended.

The Five-Year Deadline: Requesting a Re-Evaluation for Long-Term Disability

In certain situations, employees may need to be aware of another longer deadline, which is five years from the date of injury or discovery. This deadline applies to employees suffering from long-term disabilities or a significant change in their condition resulting from a work-related injury.

While the initial claim still needs to be filed within one year, you have up to five years to request a re-evaluation of benefits from the Appeals Board. This includes requesting an increase in benefits, based on the changes to your long-term disability.

Deadline For Third-Party Personal Injury Claims in California

While your immediate focus may be on filing a workers’ compensation claim with your employer’s insurance carrier, it’s important to know that you could have other options to collect compensation as well. 

In certain situations, you might be entitled to file a third-party personal injury claim. This is possible if a party other than your employer contributed to the accident, for instance, due-to faulty equipment produced by an external manufacturer or negligence by a subcontractor.

In these cases, you generally have up to 2 years from the date of your injury to file a personal injury lawsuit. In some cases, there are exceptions that will shorten or extend the deadline, so always speak with a personal injury attorney to determine the deadline. 

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