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How Long Can a Workers’ Comp Claim Stay Open in California?

  • Published: December 19, 2022

Sustaining an injury while at work can be a huge stressor. Between medical bills, lost wages, and personal recovery, it can easily become overwhelming. Fortunately, there’s a safety net for those who have been injured on the job—California’s workers’ compensation benefits program. This program pays out disability benefits for individuals who aren’t able to work due to a job-related injury.

Workers’ comp benefits are designed to keep you financially stable while you’re recovering from an injury you sustained at work. However, there’s typically a limit to those benefits in terms of how long you’ll receive them and it’s not uncommon for you to reach this limit before you have had a chance to fully recover. Therefore, it’s essential that you know your rights and contact a knowledgeable California workers’ compensation attorney like KCNS Law Group to get informed.

How Long Can You Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits in California? 

For most individuals, workers’ compensation benefits in California last up to two years (104 weeks) from the date of their injuries. When it comes to severe injuries, such as chronic lung disease or severe burns, benefits can last over four and a half years (up to 240 weeks). Also, if you don’t require all your payments to come in consecutive weeks, you can have them spread across up to five years.

Workers’ comp benefits are also referred to as temporary disability benefits. The length of time your benefits last will depend on what your doctor says your length of recovery time will be. If your doctor says your injuries are permanent and you won’t completely recover ever or if you are receiving temporary benefits that run out, there is the possibility that you can receive permanent disability benefits that could last for the rest of your life. 

But, you may wish to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if you are receiving workers’ compensation and don’t expect to return to work for at least a year or longer.

The Statute of Limitations in California

Along with this time period, there is also a statute of limitations that applies to filing a workers’ comp claim. The moment you sustain a job-related injury, the clock begins to tick and you have one year from the date of your incident to file your workers’ compensation claim (three years for federal employees).

There are two categories for job-related injuries set forth by the California Labor Code

  • Specific injuries: These types of injuries occur when a single incident or exposure leads to the need for medical care or to a disability.
  • Cumulative trauma injuries: These types of injuries are a series of repetitive traumatic activities over a time period (can include both mental or physical trauma).

When it comes to cumulative trauma, like strain injuries or repetitive stress fractures, a certain date of injury might be hard to determine. In these types of situations, the time period will start with the date that your healthcare professional first informed you that the injury you sustained was work-related or the date that you initially missed work because of the injury or illness.

There are several exceptions to the workers’ comp time limit. For instance, you could be exempt from the statute of limitations if you can’t file a claim because of severe injuries that require lengthy or prolonged treatment, like severe burns, injuries that result in a coma, or a contagious condition that required you to be quarantined.

If you don’t report your injury within 30 days, you may possibly lose your rights to workers’ comp benefits.

What Injuries Make You Eligible for Workers’ Compensation? 

Workplace injuries can vary. This is partly due to how occupational industries differ in California. Whether you work in a factory, office setting, ranch,  hospital, school, hotel, or anything else, you may qualify for workers’ comp payments if you are injured on the job. 

Some examples of injuries that can qualify you to receive workers’ compensation payments include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Slip-and-fall accidents
  • Occupational illnesses
  • Repetitive motion injuries
  • Stress-related injuries

Remember that these aren’t all of the qualifying injuries. Also, injuries that don’t relate to work or those that occur at a different location than your place of employment don’t qualify for benefits.

Do You Qualify for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in California? 

The first thing you’ll need to do is find out if you’re actually eligible for workers’ compensation. After being injured on the job, you must immediately report the accident. Most businesses and companies have policies and procedures already in place for reporting job-related accidents. You’ll likely find your company’s procedures outlined in your employee manual. But, if you’re not sure of how to report an accident or injury you sustained at work, speak with your supervisor or manager.

Seek Medical Attention

It’s important that you seek medical care right away after being injured on the job. Go to one of your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance physicians in-network, if possible. Once you’ve received medical care and you’ve reported the accident, your employer will give you a form that you’ll need to fill out in order to begin the workers’ compensation claim process. You should be provided with this form within 24 hours of informing your employer of your injury. 

Response of Insurance

Next, the insurance provider will make the decision of accepting your claim or not. If they don’t deny your claim within 90 days of you filing it, then you’ll be considered entitled to workers’ compensation benefits by the state of California.

Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

If you’re not sure if your job-related injury qualifies for a compensation claim, you’ll want to consult with an experienced California workers’ compensation lawyer. A good lawyer will be able to evaluate your cases and inform you of your eligibility quickly. They’ll also be able to help you fill out the appropriate paperwork.

Reach Out to a Skilled California Workers’ Comp Claim Attorney at KCNS Law Group Today 

If you’ve been injured on the job, or if you became sick with an illness because of the job site conditions, you may be entitled to receive compensation. If you have already filed a workers’ compensation claim that’s still pending or was denied, don’t lose faith. Here at KCNS Law Group, you have a knowledgeable and experienced workers’ comp attorney by your side who will do their very best to ensure your claim is carefully reviewed and considered.

It’s important that all paperwork is filed in a timely manner since not doing so could cause the denial of your workers’ comp claim. To increase your likelihood of a favorable outcome, don’t hesitate to call our qualified workers’ comp attorneys at KCNS Law Group today at (818) 937-9255 or fill out our contact form on our website.

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