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Timing of workers’ compensation filings at issue in appeal

Getting the timing of a workers’ compensation filing correct is important, as filing to submit a timely filing can result in a denial of a claim or receipt of lesser benefits than one is entitled to receive. Injured workers need to have a good understanding of the requirements when it comes to deadlines for workers’ compensation filings, since the workers’ compensation system doesn’t automatically handle the issue correctly.

Take, for example, the case of two workers who both applied for additional workers’ compensation benefits after being diagnosed with additional conditions connected to their original workplace injuries. In one of the cases, a trucker was initially given a four percent permanent partial disability award based on a leg injury and later developed lower back symptoms stemming from the same work injury, for which he later sought temporary total disability benefits. The other case involved a work-related wrist injury for which a permanent partial disability benefits were initially awarded. Later on, the worker developed back and hip pain connected to the original injury.

Requests to have the additional diagnoses added to the original claims were initially denied for both workers, which led to a denial of permanent partial disability benefits and a series of appeals up to the West Virginia Supreme Court. In both cases, the issue was whether the workers made timely filings for permanent partial disability benefits, given that litigation over the requests delayed those decisions. Ultimately, the court determined that because the workers requested to reopen their initial claims in a timely manner, their additional diagnoses should be compensated, despite the fact that the initial decisions were delayed due to litigation over the additional diagnoses.

Meeting workers’ compensation timelines isn’t always easy, depending on the circumstances. Obviously, avoiding litigation over workers’ compensation timeliness disputes is desirable whenever possible. In some cases, though, it may be necessary to pursue litigation on the issue to give an injured worker the best possible opportunity to receive the benefits to which he or she is entitled.

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