You can file a claim for workers compensation benefits as soon as you become injured on the job or develop an illness that is related to your work. In fact, delaying filing for workers' comp benefits after you've become sick or injured can pose a distinct disadvantage and potentially allow a workers' compensation insurance carrier to deny a worker compensation benefits. At the least, a significant amount of time between when the injury allegedly occurred and when it is reported can throw up red flags for an insurance carrier who suspects that a benefit claim is not wholly legitimate.
Things get more complicated when you have an illness or injury that developed over time, such as mesothelioma or carpel tunnel syndrome (known as a continuous, or cumulative, trauma injury). In these cases, the clock starts ticking toward your deadline when 1) you took time off work because of the injury or see a doctor for the injury, and 2) you knew, or should have known, that the injury was caused by your work.
Initiating the workers' comp process involves notifying your an employer of your injury or work-related illness and, in most states, filing a formal workers' comp claim. Employer notification of an injury or illness should be made promptly and should include pertinent details such as the date, time, and place of the injury, as well as how the injury occurred. A worker may also wish to provide a list of witnesses if the injury was due to a specific workplace accident.