If you or someone you know has been injured on the job, there’s a good chance that
workers compensation was a topic of conversation. By law, employees injured during and in the course of their employment are entitled to monetary benefits. However, the right to collect worker’s compensation does not stretch indefinitely. Most jurisdictions place a “statute of limitations” of a “prescription period” on personal injury claims, limiting the amount of time an injured party has to file a compensation claim. As soon as the injury occures, the statutory “clock” starts ticking. When that clock reaches the statute of limitation period, any workers compensation claim is effectively barred. This is a serious issue for many workers injured on the job and is important to know to report an injury as soon as possible.
In 2002, City of Brusly’s Chief of Police was injured during the course of employment. His claim for compensation, however, was not filed until December 2004, nearly two and half years after his injury. The question at issue in this case was whether prescription, that is, the filing of his claim after Louisiana’s one-year limitation placed on personal injury claims, prevented the Chief from filing his action for worker’s compensation benefits.
Louisiana Revised Statutes 23:1209(a) provides three prescription (limitation) periods for the filing of compensation claims:
(1) one year from the accident when the injury is immediately manifest;
(2) one year from the last payment of compensation benefits; and
(3) one year from the time the injury develops, but not more than two years from the accident, when the injury does not result at the time of or develop immediately after the accident.
In certain circumstances, prescription can be suspended to prevent the time constraints imposed on a personal injury claim from expiring. Suspending prescription on the Chief’s injury would allow him to successfully file a claim after the one-year limit.
After the accident, the Chief of Police was unable to perform all of the necessary duties required of his office, yet he still received the same level of compensation. The court considered these to be “wages in lieu of compensation,” which qualified as compensation benefits under the second prong of the above mentioned statute, allowing the Chief to claim benefits even though the prescription period had expired.
“Wages in lieu of compensation” differ from regular salary in the sense that they provide compensation that is not on par with the actual work being performed. For all practical purposes, these wages are considered to be compensation benefits that qualify under the second prong of the statute.
While the Chief of Police highlights an exception to the prescription period, it is not the recommended route when filing a claim for worker’s compensation benefits. To avoid undue future litigation, expenses, and stress, file your claim for worker’s compensation as soon as possible. Prescription period across the nation stretch from 1 year in Louisiana to 6 years in states like Maine and North Dakota. If you or anyone you know has been injured on the job, then they are likely entilted to compensation for their injury. It is important to consult an experienced workers compensation lawyer as soon as possibly following an injury during or in the course of employment.