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What is the statute of limitations period for workers’ comp cases in Wisconsin?

by | Apr 22, 2022 | Workers' Compensation

An injury on the job will set you back physically, mentally and financially. But knowing that your employer must carry workers’ compensation insurance gives you some sense of comfort, even if it is just a little.

One aspect of a workers’ comp claim that you should be aware of is the statute of limitations period, which is the time limit within which you must file a claim for benefits. In Wisconsin, a claimant generally has a longer period of time than do claimants in some other states. Still, it’s important not to delay any longer than necessary.

It depends on the injury: six (6) or twelve (12) years

When it comes to the statute of limitations for workers’ compensation injuries in Wisconsin, the state has two different sets of rules depending on the type of workplace injury:

  • Traumatic injuries (six years): Workers have a statute of limitations of six years on traumatic injuries (for injuries after March 2, 2016). Such injuries may include traumatic brain injury, loss of a limb and fractures. Many such injuries result from slips, trips and falls, vehicular crashes, fires and explosions, or struck or trapped by machinery.  Generally, these are viewed as single event injuries.
  • Occupational diseases (12 years): Workers have a longer statute of limitations of twelve (12) years for occupational diseases or occupational exposure claims.  This can include: hearing loss, respiratory issues such as asthma, pulmonary disease and asbestosis; skin disorders such as dermatitis caused by factors such as allergies and temperature; and musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis and arthritis.
    • Occupational exposure injuries also can include orthopedic injuries that result from a worker’s job duties over a period of time.  This can include a workers repetitive job duties over decades of work, or as little as a few hours of strenuous work.  Doctors may not always identify these issues as immediately being work-related, so it is important to talk to your physician about your job duties.
    • Additionally, it may be possible–under Wisconsin court cases–to classify a series of traumatic injuries as an “occupational exposure” injury.  If you have suffered a series of traumas with the same employer, it could be beneficial to discuss your situation and applicable statute of limitations with an attorney.

The statute of limitations means a worker needs to file a hearing application for disputed benefits within the applicable timeframe.  Accordingly, when a worker no longer receives workers’ compensation benefits for their injury, his or her claim can be reopened by the state within 6 or 12 years – depending on whether it is a traumatic injury or occupational disease — from the last date they received such benefits.

Date of Injury or Date of Last Payment

The statute of limitations runs from the date of injury or the date of last worker’s compensation payment.  This means the last day a worker received a check from the work comp carrier “starts” the statute of limitation clock.  Compensation payment does not include payment of medical bills or mileage.

If you’ve been injured at work, it’s important to keep these time periods in mind. Failure to submit your claim within the prescribed time periods may prevent you from seeking the financial compensation you need to help you recover from the injury.

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