Alabama Starts the Two-Year Statute of Limitations at the Time a Latent Injury Should Have Reasonably been Discovered
In Alabama, all disputed workers’ compensation claims are handled through the regular court system. Alabama is the only remaining state to handle disputed claims in this manner. The statute of limitations (“SOL”) for filing a workers’ compensation lawsuit is 2 years from the date of injury or date of last indemnity payment. For cumulative trauma or exposure claims, it is 2 years from the date of last exposure. One exception to the 2-year SOL is if the claimed injury was latent and could not reasonably have been discovered until a later date.
In the recently released opinion of Dillard v. Calvary Assembly of God, the Alabama Court of Appeals affirmed and clarified that a latent injury exception to the SOL is not applicable to situations where a reasonably minded employee knows they have a compensable injury even when there has been no lost time from work. Further, an injury will not be considered latent based on the employee not knowing the full extent of the injury. In Dillard, the employee testified that he had frequent low back pain. Despite being off work following each of his two back surgeries, he never claimed and did not receive temporary-total-disability benefits. As a result, the trial court concluded that a reasonable person would have known the nature, seriousness, and probable compensable nature of the work-related injury as of the date the first surgery was recommended as a possible treatment option.
About the Author:
This blog submission was prepared by Karen Cleveland, an attorney with Fish Nelson & Holden, LLC, a law firm dedicated to representing self-insured employers, insurance carriers, and third-party administrators in all matters related to workers’ compensation. Fish Nelson & Holden is a member of the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network. If you have any questions about this submission or Alabama workers’ compensation in general, please contact Cleveland by e-mailing her at email@example.com or by calling her directly at 205-332-1599.