Understanding PA Workers’ Compensation Statute of Limitations

November 9, 2023
Stern & Cohen
Understanding PA Workers’ Compensation Statute of Limitations - Stern & Cohen - Blog Post Image

Every day, workers suffer workplace injuries that result in lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses. If you have been hurt, you are entitled by law to receive benefits in Pennsylvania. However, there are time limits for filing a workers’ compensation claim. These time limits refer to the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Statute of Limitations – the law that places time constraints on when you can file a claim.  

The Statute of Limitations for Workers’ Compensation Claims in PA 

The statute of limitations is the length of time an injured worker has to formally file a Workers’ Compensation claim. In Pennsylvania, the limitation period is three years from the date of injury. If you have been injured on the job and denied medical benefits or lost wages, you must file a claim within three years from the date you were injured. Any petitions filed after three years will be barred forever and prevent you from collecting benefits for your injuries. While three years may seem like a long time, it can take months or longer for injuries to be discovered and evaluated. Time can pass quickly while undergoing treatment and rehabilitation because all the responsibility is on the injured worker.  

The Difference Between Filing a Claim and Notifying My Employer 

While injured workers have three (3) years to file a claim, injured workers must also report their injury to their employer in a timely manner. An injured worker must report the injury within 120 days. After that, the injured worker is not eligible to receive benefits. If an injured worker reports the injury within 21 days, the worker is entitled to benefits from the day of the injury. After 21 days, the worker is only eligible for benefits from the day they report the injury. 

Regardless of the injury or circumstances, an injured worker wants to report the injury and see a doctor to create a record that the injury is work-related.  

What to Do if Injured at Work to Make Sure a Timely Claim Is Filed 

1. Seek medical treatment

2. Notify your employer of your workplace injury

3. Identify all witnesses

4. Take pictures of the conditions at the scene of the accident

5. Take pictures of the injuries you sustained

6. Write down as much as you can remember about the workplace accident 

7. Get a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations 

Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation statute of limitations is a general rule and there are some exceptions. An exception means the time frame of three years may be adjusted based on certain facts.  

Once an injured worker has established an attorney-client relationship with a trusted and knowledgeable law firm that handles Pennsylvania workers’ compensation claims, these exceptions can be discussed and evaluated to see if they apply to the case. It may be a legal issue the lawyer has to consider and determine how it impacts the three-year statute of limitations. 

Here are some of the exceptions to the three-year statute of limitations: 

  • Employees who have been given some sort of payment or benefits “in lieu of compensation” have three years from the date the last payment was made within which to file a claim. 
  • If the employer has paid medical expenses related to a work injury, the three-year limitations period may be paused during the time payments were made, as long as the employer intended to satisfy their obligation under Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation law. 
  • With certain types of injuries, if an employer or their insurance carrier misrepresents that a claim has been approved, the three-year limitations period will not begin running until the injured worker realizes they were injured, and that the injury was work-related. 
  • Specific injuries have special rules that apply: 
    • If an injured worker suffers from occupational hearing loss as a result of long-term exposure to hazardous noise levels, the worker may bring a claim within three years of the last day they were exposed to excessive volumes at work. 
    • If a worker has been injured as a result of exposure to dangerous chemicals or toxins, they may be entitled to compensation. Workers who were exposed to the following have filed successful Workers’ Comp claims: 
      • Asbestos 
      • Chemicals 
      • Dust 
      • Fumes 
      • Lead 
      • Mold 

For occupational exposure injuries, the disability period must begin within 300 weeks (about 5 and a half years), from the last exposure to the hazardous chemical. 


If you or a loved one has been hurt at work, call Stern & Cohen at (215) 999-1443 or fill out a contact form below to get in contact with a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Attorney.