Utah Limits Permanent Total Disability Claims

The Utah Court of Appeals recently put everyone on notice that workers compensation claims have strict time limits that will be enforced– no matter how serious the injuries are. Let’s see how.

Worker’s compensation claims in Utah have two time limitations: a “statute of limitations” and a “statute of repose.” The statute of limitations is that an injured worker in Utah must bring a claim for temporary or permanent disability benefits within six years from the date of the accident. See Utah Code Ann. 34A-2-417(2)(a).

The statute of repose is similar to the statute of limitations but essentially provides a twelve-year backstop to file a claim. Meaning, if there are circumstances that make it so that your claim cannot be pursued until it is “ripe” or that all of the facts supporting the claim have happened, you must resolve those circumstances and file your claim within twelve years from the date of the accident.

The recent Utah Court of Appeals case of Massengale v. Labor Commission, 2020 UT App 44, is a great example. In that case, Massengale was injured in 2002 and over the ensuing years, his back injuries worsened. His back injuries, however, had not stabilized by the time he filed a claim in 2014 and his claim was dismissed. When the injuries had stabilized in 2016, it was too late to file a claim and the Utah Court of Appeals sustained the dismissal of those claims.

The Takeaway

If you have a workplace injury, make sure you make a timely claim for it. Don’t let it become stale and potentially barred. If you have a past workplace injury that you believe has worsened, start working on it now. You likely need legal help and you should get it. If you have a serious injuries, especially those that may impact your ability to earn a living and make you permanently disabled, call me and let’s get working on it.