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Is it not too late to file for worker's compensation? Is there "statutory limitation extension" in California?

Northridge, CA |

I am 51 years old and I've been receiving disability payments from a private insurance company since 2009 for "recurring trama" to my back. I stopped my full-time teaching job in 2009 because of my condition which involves disc and nerve damage in my back, legs, and feet.
In Nov 2011, the company denied my claim for total disability and stopped payments..
I appealed their decision in January 2012, but they denied my appeal.
Up until now, I did not realize that my current back condition was related to my work, but I now think that it was result of wear and tear on my back while teaching. I'd like to file a worker's compensation claim at this time. Do you know if I can do this after this period of time?

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Attorney answers 2

Posted

Claims for Work Injuries are to be filed within 1 year of knowledge of the work injury.

IF YOU CAN PROVE you just now learned that your condition was related to your work, you should file the Employee Claim Form for Industrial Injury (i'll try to pop in the link).

Expect the District's Comp adjuster to deny the claim.

Then you get ready to PROVE (1) you just recently 'learned' the injury was work-related, then (2) it was the work that caused this disability.

This is going to be tricky because I'll bet you dollars-to-donuts the private disability application you signed contained a promise that the you believed the disability was NOT at all related to employment.

One reason the District's Adjusting company can deny the claim is because you are no longer employed at the district... exceptions to the rule are medical records specifying that you reported A WORK INJURY to the doctor before leaving the employment...not just that you told the doc about back pain, but that you told the doc about WORK INJURYING YOUR BACK prior to leaving the district...

If your medical records contain Chart Notes indicating you knew or the physician advised you back in 2009 or 2010 that the Injury was work-related, the Statute of Limitations is a big problem.

But, as Mr. Borah notes, you've got little to lose (except perhaps your time and privacy).

Asker

Posted

Ms, Wallace, I never told my doctors that my work caused my back injury...before leaving my job. And, my doctors never advised me that the injury was work related. Also, I didn't sign a promise that the injury was work related. I'm now looking for a good Worker's Compensation attorney in the San Fernando Valley. Should I file the Employee Claim Form for Industrial Injury on my own, or have an attorney help me with it? Thanks for your help....Erica

Nancy J Wallace

Nancy J Wallace

Posted

Phrasing of the Claim Form will be crucial, so find an attorney first. DON'T BE DISCOURAGED if 90% say 'no thanks' because you have a nearly-impossible case. Try going on www.caaa.org (California Applicant's Attorney ASsociation)

Asker

Posted

Ms Wallace, I have an appointment next week with an experienced worker's comp attorney. He was referred to me by the San Fernando Valley Bar Association referral service. I looked over the www.caaa.org list of attorneys, but saw only one or two who specialize in worker's compensation. Can you recommend one from the list... in case the attorney here says "No thanks" to my taking my case? Thanks for your encouragement! Erica >

Nancy J Wallace

Nancy J Wallace

Posted

Tennenhouse is a name that comes to mind ... think he's a 'valley' guy.

Posted

Let's start by asking, "What do you have to lose by filing a workers' comp claim at this time?" The worst that can happen is that they'll say "No." The best that can happen is that they'll say "O.K." and give you benefits. So why not try?

There is a statute of limitations on making a workers' comp claim in California....one year. One year from the date of injury or one year from the date you knew you were injured, or one year from the date you found out it was work related. Sounds like you're still within the one year.

There is a prohibition against post-termination claims. Are you still working for the same employer? If not, any claim would now be post-termination. The three major exceptions to that rule are if the injury is cumulative trauma, ie. on-going wear and tear rather than a specific traumatic injury or if the employer knew about the injury before termination or if you received treatment for the injury before termination. Again, sounds like you're going to fall within one of the exceptions so you should be O.K.

I would expect the w.c. insurance company to deny your claim citing statute of limitations and/or post-termination claim. If that happens, get to a good w.c. attorney right away.

You may even want to consult with one before filing your claim. There are some great w.c. attorneys in the valley. Find a good one here at www.avvo.com or at www.caaa.org. CAAA is the association for attorneys here in California who represent injured workers. Or you can call me for a referral. Good luck.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for your reply to my questions. I received treatment for my back condition while working, and is "on-going wear and tear"-not a traumatic injury. I have not worked since I stopped in 2009 and went on disability through the private insurance company. I've looked though the W.C. attorneys on the CAAA we site. I don't see with worker's comp specialty. Do attorneys with "labor" or "personal injury" specialities do worker comp cases?

Brett A. Borah

Brett A. Borah

Posted

Personal injury and labor law are different from workers' comp. Some but not all labor/personal injury lawyers also do comp. I suggest getting someone who does comp. The lawyers listed at www.caaa.org are all comp attorneys. CAAA is the lawyers club for comp attorneys. Again, if you want, you can call me for a referral. 408.996.8650.

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