Statute of Limitations in Florida Workers’ Compensation Claims
After an injured worker has an accident and time passes, occasionally an injured worker hears the term “statute of limitations” from the insurance carrier when requesting follow up care with a workers’ compensation physician. If you have suffered a work accident in Florida, the lawyers at Harris Guidi Rosner P.A. believe it is critical you understand your rights and obligations under Florida law as it relates to the statute of limitations and workers’ compensation.
The statute of limitations is a provision in Florida law that ends an injured worker’s right to claim benefits, receive medical treatment, or sue for lost wages. A Florida workers’ compensation claim (a Petition for Benefits) is forever barred unless it is filed within (A) two years from the date of injury, or (B) after the initial two years, within one year of the last payment of compensation or within one year of the last provision of authorized medical treatment or care. See Florida Statute Sections 440.19(1) & (2). This means that following your work accident, it is very important to see your worker’s compensation physician(s) regularly, and no less than once every 365 days.
According to the case law in Florida, two years from the date of injury does not begin to run until the injured worker, as a reasonable person, knew or should have recognized the “nature, seriousness, and probable compensable character of his injury or disease.” See Herb’s Exxon v. Whatmough, 487 So. 2d 1169, 1172 (Fla. 1st DCA 1986) and 440.19(1). However, in most cases, the timeline for the statute of limitations runs from the date of the actual injury/accident.
In Florida, there are some important factors that can create an exception to the statute of limitations including:
- If the injured worker is a minor;
- If the injured worker is mentally incompetent;
- If the Employer misled the injured worker about the worker’s entitlement to workers’ compensation coverage;
- If the Carrier misled or failed to inform the injured worker of his or her rights, including but not limited to specifically concerning the statute of limitations; and
- If the injured worker has a medical device/ prosthetic device implanted because of the workers’ compensation injury. In Florida worker’s compensation, there is no statute of limitations related to medical care for a prosthetic device. Usually, however, the injured worker’s use of the prosthetic device must be continuous and the Employer/Carrier must be aware of the use of the device. See Gore vs. Lee County School Bd., 43 So.3d 846 (Fla. 1st DCA 2010).
An injured worker may hear the news that his or her workers’ compensation case is “closed because of the statute of limitations”. If this applies to you, we at Harris Guidi Rosner, P.A. encourage you to consult with our workers’ compensation department to investigate if the insurance carrier involved in your workers’ compensation claim is correctly and accurately raising this defense. We are available for a free, confidential consultation regarding your work accident and may be reached at (904) 777-7777 or you may email us to schedule a consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org.