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How Long Do You Have to File for Workers' Comp in Every State?

Written by
A drawing of the lead workers' compensation lawyer for Atticus.
Victoria Muñoz
Lead Attorney
May 26, 2023  ·  5 min read
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Workers’ compensation law requires you to be proactive in reporting your injury and filing a claim. Filing your claim on time will help you get the benefits you need to get back to work and your regular life. But you only have a certain amount of time after your injury to file a claim. Like many aspects of workers’ comp, this period also varies from state to state. Below we offer a state-by-state look at how long you have to file a claim.

Is there a time limit to file for workers' comp?

Yes, each state has its own time limit on how long you can file a workers’ comp claim. This period is called a statute of limitations. (A statute of limitations is the legal term for the maximum amount of time you have to start a legal case after an event.)

Most states have a statute of limitations of one to two years for workers’ comp claims, but it’s important to know your state’s specific policy. For example, Nevada has the shortest period at 90 days, while Massachusetts gives you the most time to file at four years.

Reporting your injury vs. filing a claim

Most states give you separate time limits for reporting an injury to your employer and filing a workers’ compensation claim. The statute of limitations for informing your employer is usually much shorter — anywhere from a few days to a few months. If you miss that reporting deadline you won’t be eligible for workers’ comp.

Since the reporting period is shorter than the filing period, focus on properly informing your employer of your injury before you think about filing. Check our guide to how long you have to report a work accident to your employer so you can stay eligible for benefits.

How long do you have to file a workers’ comp claim in every state?

The table below includes the time limit for filing a workers’ comp claim in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. A few states may change or extend the period depending on the situation, and we noted some of those exceptions for you.


Time limit to file workers’ comp claim


2 years


2 years


1 year


2 years


1 year


2 years


1 year


2 years

District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.)

1 year


2 years


1 year


2 years after the effects of the injury manifest and 5 years after the date of the accident


1 year


3 years after the date of the accident or 2 years after previous compensation, whichever is later


2 years


2 years after the date of the accident or 3 years after previous compensation


3 years after the date of the accident or 2 years after previous compensation, whichever is later


2 years


1 year


1 year


2 years


4 years


2 years


3 years of employer's report of injury, not to exceed 6 years after date of accident


2 years


2 years


1 year


2 years


90 days

New Hampshire

3 years

New Jersey

2 years

New Mexico

1 year

New York

2 years

North Carolina

2 years

North Dakota

1 year


1 year


1 year from the date of the accident or 6 months from previous compensation


1 year


3 years

Rhode Island

2 years

South Carolina

2 years

South Dakota

2 years


1 year


1 year


1 year for medical benefits, 6 years for disability benefits


6 months


2 years


1 year

West Virginia

6 months


2 years


1 year

How to report an injury and file a claim

Notifying your employer about a work injury and filing a claim for that injury go hand-in-hand. The information in your report will also come up in your claim. Plus, some states encourage or require your employer to file your claim on your behalf, so they need to know about your condition before they can do anything about it.

While not every state requires you to report a work injury in writing, we recommend giving your employer a written report no matter where you live. You’ll have a piece of documented evidence from the start of the workers’ comp process, and you can reference your report when you fill out your claim.

What to include in your injury notice

Write and sign a report to your employer that includes these details:

  • Your name, address, and other contact information
  • The circumstances that caused your injury or illness
  • The symptoms you have as a result of your injury or illness
  • When your injury happened down to the date and time
  • Where your injury happened, including an address if you have it

Then, give it to the highest-ranking person at your company you can get in touch with and keep a copy for yourself.

How to file a claim

Next it’s time to file your workers’ compensation claim. This part of the process varies by state. For example, New York directs employees to fill out the workers’ comp claim form, while employers typically complete it in California.

If you have another person submit your claim for you — such as your employer, doctor, employer’s insurer, or lawyer — stay proactive about your claim’s status. Follow up with the person who filed for you if you don’t get any updates within a week or two.

If you have trouble getting the proper person to file your claim for you, you can often file it yourself or get a lawyer’s help with the process.

Where to get help with your workers’ comp claim

Unfortunately, applying for workers’ comp isn’t always simple. Delays could happen on your employer’s end and they may deny your claim or that your injury was ever reported to them.

If you face delayed or denied benefits, a workers’ comp lawyer can help you get the process moving again. A lawyer will know your state’s laws well and can negotiate on your behalf to get you the benefits you need so that you can move on with your life.

For help finding an experienced lawyer near you, complete our two-minute workers’ comp benefits quiz. If it looks like you could benefit from talking to a lawyer, we’ll connect you with one who’s been vetted by our legal team. (Getting matched is free and you never have to pay the lawyer anything until after you win benefits or get a settlement.)

Maximize your workers' comp benefits today

Frequently asked questions about workers’ comp

How does workers’ comp work?

The workers’ comp process starts when you report your work injury or illness to your employer. Then you have to file a claim within a certain amount of time so you can qualify for weekly payments and reimbursement of your medical bills while you recover.

Can I get workers’ comp if the injury was my fault?

Yes. You can qualify for workers’ comp no matter whose fault the injury or illness was, as long as it happened while you were doing your job. Our guide to qualifying accidents and injuries will help you see if you could get coverage.

Do all workers qualify for workers’ comp?

You're probably eligible for workers’ comp if your employer withholds taxes from your paychecks. Independent contractors don’t usually qualify, but states may offer coverage to certain contractors, volunteers, or seasonal workers. Check with your state workers’ comp board to see exactly who qualifies in your area.

How much does workers’ comp pay?

Workers’ compensation is generally worth up to two-thirds of your pre-injury wages, but exact rates vary by state. Read more about how much workers’ comp pays in each state.

Do I need a workers’ comp lawyer?

Not everyone needs to work with a lawyer, but a workers’ comp lawyer can especially help if your claim is denied, if you get a settlement offer, or even if your claim just lasts for more than a few months. Here are some situations when a lawyer can help you.

How long do workers’ comp benefits last?

How long your benefits last varies by state, but you usually have until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). There are also long-term options if you can’t return to work after injury.

Is workers’ comp taxable?

No, workers’ comp benefits aren’t taxable. That's true whether you get weekly payments, a lump-sum settlement, or a settlement with a structured payment plan.

See what you qualify for

How long ago did you get an injury or illness at work?

A drawing of the lead workers' compensation lawyer for Atticus.

Victoria Muñoz

Lead Attorney

Victoria Muñoz is an attorney on Atticus’s Workers' Compensation team. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of Stanford Law School, and has counseled hundreds of people seeking workers' compensation. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her pup.
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