How long does an injured worker have to file a claim under the DC workers’ compensation system? I decided to write a blog about this issue because I had a new client come into my office recently regarding an injury from a year and a half ago, which occurred at her work in the District of Columbia. I asked her why she had not yet filed her workers’ compensation claim.After informing me that she did in fact file a workers’ compensation claim, she proceeded to show me the confirmed claim number from the workers’ compensation insurance company.
The Secret Behind The Delay
What was the problem? The insurance company’s claim number is more like an internal tracking number for them, which works only in their computers, so that they can keep tracking of their cases. It does not mean a claim is on file. The only way an injured worker is truly protected, with lifetime medical rights, is to file an official claim with the DC Office of Workers’ Compensation (OWC).The client was completely shocked, as she had never heard of the OWC.I then told her that you have only one (1) year from the date of the work injury to get the official claim filed. This new client’s shock turned to disappointment and then to anger. I told her that the insurance company is not on her side. In fact, they are on the exact opposite side of her case and that she cannot and should not rely on them, or to give her legal advice or to advise her as to rights she has under Title 32 of the DC Code (the workers’ compensation statute).
The lessons to be learned? When you are injured at work you must:
1. Notify your employer immediately
2. Seek medical treatment immediately
3. Contact an attorney for a free consultation.
All’s Well That Ends Well
I was able to salvage this claim because there is an exception in the DC workers’ compensation statute that allows injured workers to file their claims with the DC Office of Workers’ Compensation more than one (1) year from the date of injury. That exception exists if the insurance company did not send the injured worker a form called, “First Report of Injury” via Certified Mail, which they rarely do. Luck was on this client’s side. Had she not been so lucky, she would have lost out on a lot of monetary and treatment-related benefits.
Knowing Your Rights Matters
So, the lessons learned from this blog are: Don’t short change yourself. Know your rights and start filling! If you have any questions about a DC workers’ compensation claim, please contact Lauren Pisano for consultation at LPisano@BSGFDLaw.com or 301-740-3304.