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Time limits on workers' compensation claims

Some Pennsylvania workers may not be aware of the time limits often imposed upon workers' compensation claims. In cases of workplace injury, claims that are not submitted within the requisite interval of time may hinder an injured employee's ability to collect compensation they may have been entitled to receive.

In 2005, a long-time McDonald's employee left his New Jersey job to pursue other employment. He had received treatment for a condition in his left shoulder for a number of years prior to his deciding to leave McDonald's; though his initial diagnosis had come in 2001, he reportedly began feeling pain as early as 1995. In 2006, after undergoing surgery for a tear in the left shoulder, he sought to receive workers' compensation from McDonald's related to workplace injury. A judge denied this claim with the argument that the employee had not claimed workers' compensation within the applicable statute of limitations period following his 2001 diagnosis, which in the case of New Jersey is two years.

This ruling was reversed by an appellate court in August 2015. The appellate court sided with the former employee in arguing that the condition diagnosed in 2001 and the shoulder tear from 2006 were actually two separate events. Since his shoulder operation was conducted within the two-year period of his leaving McDonald's, the court decided his compensation claim could not be dismissed on this basis alone absent further testimony from medical experts.

This case emphasizes some of the complexities that can arise in cases related to workers' compensation claims. Whether an employee is entitled to compensation often depends on numerous factors that can require an extensive amount of investigation to determine. An attorney can often be of assistance to an injured attorney in this regard.

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