In most jurisdictions, an injured employee must make a claim for workers compensation within a specified time. By imposing a time limitation on filing a claim, the states have attempted to protect employers from old or stale claims that would be difficult to adequately investigate and defend. An employee’s failure to file his claim promptly will result in the claim being denied, even if it is shown that the employer was not actually prejudiced by the delay. As a general rule, it is presumed that the employer is prejudiced by an untimely claim due to the inherent difficulty in defending old claims.
The time for filing a workers compensation claim does not begin to run until the employee has the requisite knowledge concerning the claim. Essentially, the employee must be cognizant that he has been injured and to what degree he has been injured. Additionally, the employee must be aware that he has the potential to recover workers compensation for the injury or through reasonable diligence could have discovered such information. However, the employee who turns a blind eye to his condition and the potential recovery for benefits will not be allowed the above concession in time. With respect to a claim for death benefits, a separate limitations period applies. Usually, the time for filing such a claim will run from the date of the employee’s death.
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