When you’re hurt at work in Louisiana, it’s extremely important to report the accident to your employer and seek medical treatment immediately. In many cases, you need to start your workers’ compensation claim within 30 days.
If your employer refuses to pay your Louisiana workers’ compensation benefits, it’s equally important to take immediate action to push back.
Fighting a denial of workers’ comp can mean filing a special kind of lawsuit.
When it comes to lawsuits, you’ve probably heard the term “statute of limitations.”
Basically a “statute of limitations” is the time period you have to file. If you fail to file your lawsuit in time, you’ll forever miss your chance to sue.
In Louisiana, the legal term for “statute of limitations” is “prescription.” And “prescription” applies to your workers’ compensation claim just like any other lawsuit.
After the harsh interruption of a job injury, workers’ compensation benefits—including medical care and replacement for lost income,—are a crucial part of moving forward with your life.
So you want to make sure to get the timing right.
Louisiana workers’ compensation guidelines hold that you generally must file your lawsuit contesting a benefits denial by the one-year anniversary of your work accident.
So if you are injured at work and your employer denies your claim for workers’ comp assistance, you must file a lawsuit within one year from the date that the accident happened (not the date that your employer denied your benefits).
If you fail to make that deadline, you can no longer file a lawsuit against your employer to get your benefits.
For example, if you were injured on the job on Jan. 15, 2021, you needed to file a lawsuit over your claim by Jan. 15, 2022. If you waited until Jan. 16, it was too late.
Although the general rule under Louisiana workers’ compensation laws is that you must file a lawsuit for workers’ comp within one year of your work injury, there are several exceptions:
1) If you continue working after your accident and never miss a day of work. The clock doesn’t start ticking on your filing deadline until the first day you miss work. This is called the “developmental disability” rule. Under this rule, if you were injured on Jan. 15, 2021 but don’t miss any work until Oct. 3, 2021, you would get until Oct. 3, 2022 to file your lawsuit if your employer refuses to pay you.
2) If you have already received workers’ comp temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. If your employer accepts your claim for workers’ compensation and pays your benefits for a while, you have one year from the date of your last temporary total disability payment to seek additional TTD payments through a lawsuit.
3) If you have already received supplemental earnings benefits to compensate for lower earnings when you’re back at work. You have three years from the date of your last payment of supplemental earnings benefits to seek additional supplemental earnings benefits.
4) If you need to extend the medical treatment you received under workers’ comp. You have three years from the date you last received medical treatment through workers’ comp to seek additional medical treatment.
So once again, think about an injury that happened on Jan. 15, 2021. Let’s say your company paid for your medical treatment and paid you TTD benefits while you were out of work.
You returned to work on Oct. 3, 2021, but continued to treat with your doctor.
Then just over a year later on Oct. 4, 2022, your doctor performs a surgery stemming from your work injury and says you cannot work anymore. But your employer (or their workers’ comp insurance company) refuses to pay benefits for the time you miss from work during recovery from surgery.
What do you do?
Unfortunately, since more than one year passed since you last received a payment of TTD benefits, you can’t seek additional TTD benefits.
But you still have time to seek payment of supplemental earnings benefits and additional medical treatment because you’re still within the three-year period you get to sue for more benefits after last receiving those benefits.
A workers’ comp claim, and all the Louisiana workers’ compensation requirements that go with it, can seem overwhelming.
So here’s another part you shouldn’t delay: contacting an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
A workers’ comp attorney who deals with this process all the time knows what deadlines you must meet—and can make sure you don’t miss a deadline and end up with fewer of these life-changing benefits, or no benefits at all, because of it.
At Workers’ Compensation, LLC, our Louisiana workers’ comp lawyers have helped thousands of people across the state and secured millions in benefits for workers. Workers’ Comp Is What We Do.