The Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act provides for civil non-jury trials of all workers’ compensation cases. These cases are considered preferred actions to be tried as expeditiously as possible. The statute of limitations for such action is generally two years from the date of the accident, or two years from the date that the employee was last paid compensation for lost wages due to the injury, whichever is later. There are some limited situations that can extend this period.
While usually the employee needs to file the lawsuit within two years of the accident, that time period usually does not begin to run until the moment when the injured employee knew or should have known that they had suffered the injury. This is not the typical case since most on-the-job injuries are such that the employee knows they are injured immediately. However, in some cases injuries are sustained where the employee does not know of the injury until years later because the employee only becomes conscious of the injury at that time. For example, in cases such as employees being in hazardous conditions that take a long time for the poor effects to become noticeable, the employee does not know he is being harmed at the time of the injury. Only later does he know that he was injured before. This could be past the two years from the original injury when he or she was exposed to the hazardous conditions that created the injury. It is in cases similar to this where the statute of limitations would not start running until the actual knowledge of the injury was known by the employee. The delay in the employee knowing of the injury could be for other reasons, but the delay in the discovery must be one that is reasonable under the circumstances.
Normally a claim must be filed within two years from the date of the injury or two years from the last date that the employee was paid compensation for the lost wages from the injury. Exceptions are limited, but they do include the employee reasonably knowing that he or she was actually injured.
If you have any questions about notice or time limitations effecting your workers’ compensation benefits, please call the attorneys at the Nomberg Law Firm (205) 930-6900 or contact us here.