You must act quickly when you think you have suffered a job-related injury or illness that could qualify you to receive workers’ compensation benefits. All states, including Ohio, enforce a two-year statute of limitations on most first-time claims. Exceptions exist, but those are difficult to get. Contacting a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible after an injury occurs or symptoms of an occupational disease develop is essential for not missing a deadline and losing out on the right to request coverage for medical expenses and lost wages.

What Are the Exact Deadlines?

For an injury or death caused by on-the-job accidents, the clock for the statute of limitations starts ticking on the day the incident occurred. For example, losing a finger to a malfunctioning production line machine on Feb. 15, 2017, would give the worker until Feb. 15, 2019, to file an application with Ohio Workers’ Compensation, the state agency that processes all claim requests. That statute of limitation can be extended by one year if the injury leaves the victim so incapacitated that he or she cannot prepare an application.

More than one deadline can apply for seeking workers’ comp benefits for an occupational illness. As explained on the OWC website, these are

  • Two years from the date on which the worker quit his or her job due to the disease
  • Two years from when a worker received an official diagnosis from a physician
  • Two years from when the worker first received treatment for the disease
  • Two years after dying from the disease, with the workers’ comp claim being filed by a designated family member
  • Six months from a physician’s diagnosis

An additional five-year statute of limitation may apply if a person seeks workers’ comp for a disease that develops after he or she leaves the job where exposures to toxic or carcinogenic substances may have occurred.

OWC case reviewers and employers will often challenge a workers’ comp claim on the grounds that an application arrived past the applicable deadline. One reason to work with an experienced Ohio workers’ compensation attorney is to have a legal ally who can counter such arguments, especially when your claim is related to an illness like cancer which rarely produces immediately noticeable symptoms.

Why Does Ohio Workers’ Compensation Set Statutes of Limitations on First-Time Claims?

“Temporal proximity,” the time between an incident and the legal action the incident gives rise to, counts for a lot. While applying for workers’ comp benefits is different from filing personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, many of the same principles apply.

Setting a general two-year time limit makes it easier to show a direct connection between what happened and its outcome in the form of an injury, illness, or death. The deadline also helps investigators identify co-workers and supervisors who can provide testimony and reports based on relatively fresh memories. Finally, medical records, bills, rehabilitation plans, and other necessary documents will get lost as more time passes.

Is There a Deadline for Filing an Appeal of a Denied Workers’ Comp Claim?

Absolutely. You should file your notice of intent to appeal the OWC’s denial of your first-time workers’ comp claim within 30 days of receiving the rejection letter. Rolling deadlines hit as you navigate the appeals process.

Definitely work with an Ohio workers’ compensation attorney when pursuing an appeal. You will need to collect, organize, and present additional evidence. Your lawyer will know what information is required and who needs to receive it in which form by which date. Seemingly insignificant mistakes during the appeals process can defeat a workers’ comp that should have succeeded.

What Happens if I Miss the Deadline for Filing My Type of Workers’ Comp Claim?

Exceeding the statute of limitations or missing a deadline for filing an appeal will make it impossible to make your claim. OWC simply will not consider a workers’ compensation application if the paperwork arrives too late.

You can learn more about qualifying and applying for workers’ compensation benefits in Ohio by requesting a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with a lawyer in the Columbus offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman. Call us at (800) 678-3318 or reach out online.