In law, almost every cause of action has a “statute of limitations.” This is simply a time within which a cause of action can be brought. Typically, if a suit or action is not filed within the applicable statute of limitations, the suit or action will be dismissed. Pennsylvania workers’ compensation cases are no different. Basically, the statute of limitations for a PA workers’ compensation case is three years. But that is only part of the story.
There are actually time constraints in PA workers’ comp other than the basic statute of limitations. These can be longer or shorter than the general statute of limitations. For example, notice of an injury must be provided within 120 days of the injury (though, in certain types of cases, that time can be extended under the “discovery rule”). Unless the case is covered by the discovery rule, the failure of the injured worker to provide notice to the employer within 120 days of the injury will cause the workers’ compensation claim to be denied.
On the other hand, there are types of workers’ comp cases in PA that have a statute of limitations longer than three years. When an injured worker dies subsequent to an injury, as a result of the work injury, we have what is known as a “fatal claim.” Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, as stated in Section 301(c)(1), ” . . . wherever death is mentioned as a cause for compensation under this act, it shall mean only death resulting from such injury and its resultant effects, and occurring within three hundred weeks after the injury.” So, as long as the death takes place within 300 weeks of the work injury, fatal claim benefits may be obtained (these provide benefits to dependents, since general workers’ compensation benefits in PA end with the death of the injured worker).
Recently, the Commonwealth Court of PA, in the case of Demchenko v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (City of Philadelphia), discussed “occupational diseases,” and specifically, occupational diseases suffered by firefighters. As discussed in that case, the statute of limitations can be even longer than 300 weeks, up to 600 weeks, depending on the situation.
As you can see, there are many things that can make a workers’ comp case in Pennsylvania more complicated. This is why every injured worker should seek the representation of an experienced PA workers’ compensation attorney, one who is certified as a specialist in workers’ compensation law, at the earliest time. The attorneys with Brilliant & Neiman LLC each have over 23 years of experience handling Pennsylvania workers’ compensation cases, and are certified as specialists in workers’ compensation law. Doesn’t your case need to be handled by a firm with this kind of experience?