It is reasonably understood in the workers’ compensation industry that an employer is required to provide a DWC-1 Claim Form to an injured worker within one working day of receiving notice or knowledge from any source of an industrial injury resulting in lost time beyond the employee’s work shift at the time of injury, or when there is a need for medical treatment beyond first aid. What’s interesting is what some employers end up doing when they run low on DWC-1 Claim Forms. Instead of ordering additional forms, they usually take their very last one to the copying machine and run off perhaps 50 extra copies. Now they have plenty of claim forms to go around.
But wait. That’s not the law. Contrary to popular belief LC 5401, which dictates distribution of the Claim Form, is really a two-part law. Part one concerns distribution of the actual Claim Form. However, everyone seems to forget about part two, which requires the employer to provide with the DWC-1 Claim Form a Notice of Potential Eligibility For Benefits. Unless both forms are provided as required by law, the employer cannot successfully raise a statute of limitations defense should the employee wait more than a year to file a claim.
Of course, it is not uncommon for employees who file late claims to assert they were never provided a DWC-1 Claim form or Notice of Potential Eligibility For Benefits. For that reason, the employer should always document how and when they complied with the provisions of LC 5401. At times it may even be beneficial to hand deliver and also mail the required forms to the injured worker. One can never be too careful.