What Happens if a Connecticut Employer Fails to Respond to a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
The first step in obtaining workers’ compensation benefits is to actually file a claim. Specifically, an employee must file a Form 30C with their employer and the Workers’ Compensation Commission. This form provides basic details regarding the claimed injury.
Once the employer receives the Form 30C, it then has 28 days to file its own notice should it wish to contest the employee’s claim. If the employer does not contest the claim, it must then “commence payment of compensation for the alleged injury within that same 28-days period.” If the employer makes this timely payment, it then has an additional one-year period to contest liability.
Appellate Court Rejects Gym’s Excuse for Late Contest to Workers’ Compensation Claim
So what happens when the employer does nothing for 28 days? Can it still try and contest a workers’ compensation claim? Based on a recent decision from the Connecticut Appellate Court, the answer is generally “no.”
The employee in this case, Dominguez v. New York Sports Club, works for a gym. While moving some gym equipment in June 2016, the employee aggravated a pre existing work-related injury to his left arm. The employee subsequently filed his Form 30C, which the employer received on July 6, 2016.
The 28-day period came and went without any action from the employer. That is to say, the employer neither filed a notice to contest liability nor commenced payment of benefits. The employee then filed a motion with the Workers’ Compensation Commission seeking an order prohibiting the employer from contesting liability going forward, as it failed to comply with the statutory deadline.
At this point, the employer did respond, stating it now wishes to contest liability for the employee’s injury. The employer’s excuse for its late filing was that it never received any medical bills from the plaintiff during the 28-day period. Essentially, the employer claimed it could not comply with the deadline due to the employee’s failure to provide additional information.
The Appellate Court rejected this argument. Affirming a prior ruling from the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner, the Court conceded that state workers’ compensation law was “ambiguous” on this issue. But the best way to resolve that ambiguity was by placing the burden on the employer, not the employee, to “take prompt action on behalf of an injured employee with respect to medical expenses.”
Indeed, had the employer in this case simply started paying medical benefits within the 28-day period, it would have retained its right to later challenge the underlying workers’ compensation claim. Furthermore, the Court pointed out that nothing in Connecticut workers’ compensation law actually requires an employee “to furnish medical bills or a separate request for payment within twenty-eight days after commencing a claim.” Again, the law puts the onus on the employer to take prompt action, which includes seeking proper documentation.
Get Help from a Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
Dealing with the effects of a work-related injury is bad enough. Waiting for workers’ compensation benefits due to your employer’s failure to comply with legal deadlines only aggravates matters. But you do not have to sit around and do nothing. A board-certified Stratford workers’ compensation attorney can represent you in dealing with your employer and the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. Contact the Morizio Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team.