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Statute of Limitations on Longshore and Defense Base Act Claims (DBA)

How long does an injured longshoreman or civilian contractor have to file a claim under the Longshore or Defense Base Act? The answer, in most instances, is one (1) year from the date of the injury.

What happens if you are paid compensation and your employer terminates the payments? You should likely retain a qualified attorney immediately. But with respect to the statute of limitations, if your employer voluntarily pays compensation benefits  and then terminates those payments, you will then have one (1)  year from the time that your employer terminates compensation benefits for you to file a claim for additional compensation benefits.

If your claim is due to what is referred to in the act as an “occupational disease”, like hearing loss or  exposure to harmful chemicals, you have two (2) years to file your claim. The time does not start until  you first become aware of the relationship between the occupational disease, your disability, and your employment. An occupational disease is  an illness or medical condition which develops as a result of exposure to harmful conditions or substances in the workplace. With occupational injuries, the insurance companies love to litigate against injured workers over when the disease manifested itself, and when the employee became aware of the link between the disease and his or her employment. Often,  the diseases or conditions as a result of exposure does not  manifest itself for years or decades, and not until you have retired or left a particular employer. It is therefore important to retain a qualified attorney to represent you as you navigate the intricacies of the Longshore and Defense Base Act.

As with almost any law, there are  exceptions to these rules.  For example, if the employer  did not file the Employer’s First Report of Injury (LS-202) with the Department of Labor, you have one year from the date of filing of that report by the Employer.  Employers must file the LS-202 within 10 days of their knowledge of any injury which causes the loss of one or more of your shifts of work.

Employees must distinguish between a claim for compensation for the disability and a claim for medical benefits. A claim for medical benefits is not a claim for compensation for lost wages; it is a claim to be treated for an injury.  Under the Longshore and Defense Base Act, a claim for medical benefits is NEVER time barred, but you should request your medical benefits as soon as treatment is needed and do not allow more than a few months to elapse between treatment visits with your doctor.

As a reminder, you, the EMPLOYEE, have the absolute right to choose your treating physician. NEVER let the adjuster “offer” or “suggest” a treating physician.

If the insurance carrier is not paying you, or has advised you that the statute of limitations has expired on your claim, it is important to retain competent counsel to represent you. This is just one issue that may arise in a typical Longshore/Defense Base Act (DBA) claim.Attorneys J o Ann Hoffman & Associates, P.A. handles Longshore and Defense Base Act claims throughout the country. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation regarding your case.

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