Workers in Maryland who are injured on the job are required to file their claims for workers’ compensation within the two-year statute of limitations. In New Jersey, which has the same statutory period, a man who is attempting to collect on a workers’ compensation claim after working for a decade at McDonald’s is struggling to demonstrate that his torn rotator cuff is the result of an earlier injury caused by his work at the company.
The man did maintenance for McDonald’s from 1995 to 2005. He began suffering from pain in his wrists, shoulders and elbow during the first year of his employment. The man was treated several times for shoulder pain during the ten years of his employment and received a diagnosis of bilateral bicipital tendonitis of the shoulder in 2001. He was successfully treated and never filed a workers’ compensation claim. In June 2006, an MRI detected a left shoulder rotator cuff tear that led to surgery. The man filed for workers’ compensation at that time, but McDonald’s successfully argued that the claim was outside the statute of limitations.
However, the man appealed the ruling on the grounds that he had been unaware of the injury and that it was unrelated to the early diagnosis. The appellate court sent the case back to workers’ compensation court to hear additional medical testimony in order to determine whether or not the two injuries are related.
A case like this one points to the importance of getting timely treatment for workplace injuries as well as making timely claims. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who file for workers’ compensation, and individuals who have had their workers’ compensation claim rejected may appeal the ruling. People who suspect their injury or illness is related to their work may wish to consult with an attorney. Legal counsel may be able to assist with paperwork and demonstrate the link between the injury or illness and the job.