Nearly every facet of the law has some kind of statute of limitations, and workers' compensation benefits are no exception. Statutes of limitations exist for many reasons, but one of the most important is to maintain the integrity of evidence. Evidence can come in the form of witness testimony, photographs, physical injuries and much more, and it is possibly the most important aspect of any case. Evidence is important for workers' compensation cases in order for injured workers to prove the extent of their injuries and the circumstances under which they were suffered.
A prime example of how time could affect the evidence of a workers' compensation case would be an incident in which you suffered a broken leg from an on the job injury. The damages caused by a broken leg will be much larger than the damages caused by a bruise, and the compensation you recover will be proportionately larger. However, if you wait until after your leg has healed to file a claim, the insurance company may attempt to prove that your leg was never broken in order to avoid the larger payout.
The issue of time becomes even more significant for illnesses suffered due to workplace exposure, such as exposure to asbestos that could cause lung cancer. It can be hard to prove that an illness was related to workplace exposure, and it can be even more difficult to prove exactly when the illness took hold of you. For this reason, the statute for workplace illness claims in Pennsylvania is 300 weeks after the date on which you were last exposed.
This means that if you believe you have suffered an illness due to workplace exposure in Pennsylvania, you have approximately six years to file a claim from your last day on the job which you believe exposed you to the illness. Establishing a timeline and proving exposure can be difficult, which is why it is a good idea to enlist the aid of an attorney when filing a workplace illness claim.