Understanding PA Workers’ Compensation Statute of Limitations

September 13, 2022

statute of limitations for a claim petitionEvery day workers suffer workplace injuries that result in lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses. If you have been hurt, you are entitled by law to receive benefits in Pennsylvania. However, there are time limits for filing a workers’ compensation claim. 

In this article, we discuss the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Statute of Limitations. This is the law that places time limits on when you can file a claim. This article will include when the limitations period starts to run, and how long an injured worker has to file a claim.

There is one essential fact you should take away from this article – workplace injuries can be more complicated than you initially think. The injuries may be hidden and they can be more severe than you even realize at the time of your accident. There are time limits on when you file a workers’ compensation claim. However, you can be protected from making a costly mistake. Take advantage of a free case evaluation to determine what compensation you may be entitled to. Only an experienced and knowledgeable attorney can protect your rights.


What is PA Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Before delving into the time limitations to file a claim for benefits, let’s go over the rights you have for compensation under Pennsylvania law. If you have been injured at work in Philadelphia, you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits. Pennsylvania law requires virtually all employers to purchase and maintain Workers’ Compensation Insurance. These workers’ compensation benefits are designed to ensure injured workers are financially compensated for their medical bills and related economic losses after being harmed in workplace accidents including personal injury, occupational diseases, occupational illness, and work-related illness so long as there is medical evidence to prove the injury is work-related. 

The Pennsylvania workers’ compensation statute is intended to protect workers, not employers, and this is why it’s the responsibility of the injured worker to make a formal claim within the statutory time limits. This is the first reason why it’s recommended to retain a workers’ compensation attorney. Employers and their insurance carriers will do anything to deny payments or force an employee into a low settlement. An experienced attorney will know how to protect your rights and thwart any attempt to reduce the amount you are owed.

The second critical reason to retain a workers’ compensation attorney is to ensure that your claim is filed on time. What this means is you must comply with the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law’s statute of limitations which sets the time during which you must file your claim. If you don’t file your claim in time you may lose your right to receive compensation. This could have a devastating impact on you and your family. 


What is the Statute of Limitations For Workers’ Compensation Claims in PA?

The statute of limitations is the length of time an injured worker has to formally file a Workers’ Compensation claim. In Pennsylvania, the limitation period is three years. What this means is if you have been injured on the job and denied medical benefits or lost wages, you must file a claim within three years from the date you were injured. If you do not file within three years from the date of the injury, you lose your right to recover benefits. Although three years may seem like a long time, it can take months or longer for injuries to be evaluated and discovered. Moreover, because all the responsibility is on the injured worker, time can pass quickly while undergoing treatment and rehabilitation; while dealing with financial and family matters in the wake of the injury. Because time can get away from an injured worker and their family, it is important to bring a workers’ compensation lawyer into your case, to be on your side protecting your rights and ensuring that a timely claim is filed.


Is There a Difference Between Filing a Claim and Notifying My Employer?

Yes. While you may have three (3) years to file a claim you must also report your injury in a timely manner.  You must report the injury within 120 days. After that, you will not be eligible to receive benefits. If you report within 21 days you will be entitled to benefits from the day of your injury. After 21 days, you can only be eligible from the day you reported. 

What this means is regardless of the injury or circumstances, you want to report your injury and see a doctor to create a record that the injury is work-related.

There is an exception here (discussed below). It will not always be the case that you are aware of a work-related injury and/or the date it occurred. Once you suspect you have an injury such as carpal tunnel or exposure to noise or chemicals, make the proper notification and seek medical attention. After that, a qualified Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney can advise how to proceed.  


What Should I Do if Injured at Work to Make Sure I Can File a Timely Workers’ Compensation Claim?

These are the immediate steps to take:

  1. Seek medical treatment
  2. Only a doctor will be able to identify the injuries you suffered. You may not even know the full extent of your injuries. 

    Common Workplace Injuries

    There are a variety of injuries that can occur in the workplace. Some of the most common include:

    • Sprains and strains
    • Fractures
    • Dislocations
    • Lacerations
    • Amputations
    • Burns
    • Carpal Tunnel
    • Repetitive motion injuries
    • Head injuries
    • Hearing loss
    • Chemical exposure

    These are just some of the more common workplace injuries.

  3. Notify your employer of your workplace injury
  4. In addition to reporting your accident to your supervisor and seeing a doctor as soon as you can, you should also take these steps so your lawyer will have the strongest case: 

    1. Identify all witnesses;
    2. Take pictures of the conditions at the scene of the accident;
    3. Take pictures of the injuries you sustained; and
    4. Write down as much as you can remember about the workplace accident

  5. Get a free consultation with an experienced workers’ comp attorney
  6. After you have been evaluated and treated by your physician, your attorney can protect your rights even if additional medical issues arise later which are tied to the workplace injury.

    Each of these actions is critical to your overall success in recovering under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act.

Are Their Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?

Yes. Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation statute of limitations is a general rule and there are some exceptions. An exception does not mean your claim will be denied. It means that the time frame may be adjusted based on certain facts.

Once you have established an attorney-client relationship with a trusted and knowledgeable law firm that handles PA workers’ comp claims, these exceptions can be discussed and evaluated to see if they apply to your case. It may be a legal issue your lawyer has to consider and determine how it impacts the three-year statute of limitations.

Here are some of the exceptions to the three-year statute of limitations:

  • Employees who have been given some sort of payment or benefits “in lieu of compensation” have three years from the date the last payment was made within which to file a claim.
  • If your employer has paid your medical expenses related to a work injury, the three-year limitations period may be paused during the time payments were made, as long as your employer intended to satisfy their obligation under Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation law.
  • With certain types of injuries, if an employer or their insurance carrier misrepresents that a claim has been approved, the three-year limitations period will not begin running until the injured worker realizes they were injured, and that the injury was work-related.
  • Specific injuries have special rules that apply:
    • If you suffer from occupational hearing loss as a result of long-term exposure to hazardous noise levels, you may bring a claim within three years of the last day you were exposed to excessive volumes at work.
    • If you have been injured as a result of exposure to dangerous chemicals or toxins, you may be entitled to compensation. Workers who were exposed to the following have filed successful Workers’ Comp claims:
      • Asbestos
      • Chemicals
      • Dust
      • Fumes
      • Lead
      • Mold

For occupational exposure injuries, the disability period must begin within 300 weeks, about six years, from your last exposure to the hazardous chemical.

If you have been injured on the job, it is important to speak with an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ comp attorney to discuss your legal rights and options. The workers’ compensation attorneys at Larry Pitt & Associates offer a free consultation to determine the compensation payable to you for the injury you have suffered on the job. They are qualified to protect your rights and ensure that a timely claim is filed to recover your wage loss benefits and other employment-related benefits.

To learn more about your workers’ comp benefits, rights, and the statute of limitations, call for a FREE consultation by dialing (888)-PITT-LAW or (877) 748-8529, or by sending us a message through our easy-to-use contact us box available here.