How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?

As we discussed last week, there are two applicable statutes of limitations ("SOL") connected to a workers' compensation claim in Mississippi. Last week we focused on the two-year SOL, which generally applies to "medical only" claims or claims in which no compensation benefits have been paid to the injured worker. This week our focus is on the one-year SOL, which applies when compensation benefits have been paid to the injured worker.

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The one-year SOL

If you have been injured on the job and removed from work by a medical provider, or perhaps had your hours reduced by a medical provider resulting in a decrease in your pre-injury average weekly wage, you are entitled to compensation benefits. Once compensation benefits or salary in lieu of compensation benefits have been paid to you, the two-year SOL is no longer applicable, as your claim is no longer considered a "medical only" claim. The claim is now considered a "lost time" claim. With lost time claims, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until a Commission Form B-31, Notice of Final Payment, has been properly filed with the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission. Once the B-31 has been properly filed, you have one year from that date to take further action on your claim. If you do not take further action within that one year period, your claim will be forever barred.

When should a Form-B31 be filed?

The Commission Form B-31, Notice of Final Payment is exactly that: it is a notice to the injured worker and the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission that the employer and/or the employer's insurance company have made a final payment on the claim and do not expect to make any more payments. The B-31 should not be filed on a lost time claim until the injured worker has been placed at maximum medical improvement by his or her medical provider. Prior to the B-31 being filed, it must be sent to the injured worker for review and signing. But get this: even if the injured worker does not sign the B-31, there is still a method by which it can be properly filed unsigned. And whether the B-31 is filed signed or unsigned, as long as it is properly filed, the one-year SOL starts running immediately. And again, once the SOL runs, the injured worker is forever barred from further pursuing his or her claim.

What else should I know?

The B-31 process can be complicated, much more complicated than the areas we have highlighted in this discussion. Keep this in mind, though: just because a B-31 is filed on your claim, that does not mean that you are not entitled to any further benefits on your claim. You may still require ongoing medical treatment, incur additional loss of time from work, and you may be entitled to additional funds beyond those already paid. But in order to receive any further benefits after the B-31 is filed, you must take action quickly!

If you have any questions concerning an injury at work, do not hesitate to contact our office at (601) 869-0696.

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