Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.
Is it possible for a fired injured postal worker who was injured on the job to revisit a claim for compensation? If so, what are the time limits?
Because you are no longer employed by the Federal government, you should submit the completed form to the Federal agency where you last worked when the injury or disease was sustained.
It is unclear whether you have already filed a claim or want to appeal a prior OWCP decision. If you have not filed a claim, you must file your FECA claim for compensation within 3 years of the date of injury. For a traumatic injury, the statutory time limitation begins to run from the date of injury. For a latent condition, the time begins to run when “an injured employee with a compensable disability becomes aware, or reasonably should have been aware, of a possible relationship between the medical condition and the employment.”
If you want to appeal a FECA decision, the Employees’ Compensation Appeals Board is an appellate body with jurisdiction to consider and decide appeals from the final decisions of OWCP. Once a final decision has been issued by the OWCP, an appeal may be filed with the Board. For an OWCP decision issued after November 19, 2008, an appeal must be filed within 180 days following the date of the OWCP’s final decision. However, any OWCP decision issued prior to November 19, 2008 permit an appeal up to one year from the OWCP decision. Please note how these time limitations may apply to your case.
Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw, Bransford & Roth, PC.
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As Bill points out, there is much missing information from the question that makes it impossible to answer this question. There are certainly additional situations that apply here. For instance, since FECA is an administrative and nonadversarial (allegedly) process, the “notice” requirement for timely filing a claim can frequently be met by pointing to employing agency health surveillance records (for instance the worker’s hearing and asbestos surveillance program documents) that will be sufficient to meet the “notice” requirements and allow a claim submitted now to move ahead even though an injured worker is no longer within three years of current exposure.