Workers’ Compensation claims do not remain open forever. The law places restrictions on how long a claim may last. For claims that happened before August 25, 2006, the law distinguishes between a “medical only” claim versus a “lost time“ claim. In a “medical only” claim, no compensation has been awarded, and the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation or the self-insured employer only paid medical bills associated with your treatment. In these “medical only” claims, the claim remains open for a period of six years starting from the date the Bureau or the self-insured employer last paid a medical bill.
“Lost time” claims are those where the Bureau or self-insured employer paid some type of compensation. In our last post, “Workers’ Compensation Bill of Rights – Week 7: You have the right to receive compensation for your injury, disease, or disability,” we set forth the various forms of compensation that are available in a claim, i.e., temporary total disability, wage lost compensation, permanent partial and permanent total disability. In “lost time” claims, the claim remains open for a period of ten years from the date the Bureau or self-insured employer paid a medical bill or compensation.
The state legislature changed the law in those claims that occurred after August 25, 2006. In an effort to reduce the period of time a claim remains open, the law now provides that a claim remains open only for a period of five years from the last date the Bureau or the self-insured employer paid for compensation or a medical bill.
Because the law limits how long a claim lasts, it is important that you continue to treat with your doctor, and that your bills be paid under the claim. If you continue to seek treatment covered under the claim, your coverage may remain open for the entire time your injury causes you problems. Your claim could remain open for a lifetime if you have continuous treatment and/or compensation.
However, if you stop treating, your are jeopardizing coverage, and your claim may lapse. That’s why it is important you consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney should you have any questions regarding whether your claim remains open, and/or the period of time in which is may lapse.
The experienced attorneys at Gallon Takacs Boissoneault and Schaffer are available to answer every question regarding your claim. You can also take advantage of a free copy of our Workers’ Compensation Bill of Rights or visit us at www.gallonlaw.com.
Thomas J. Schaffer, Partner and Administrative Attorney, Workers’ Compensation Section.