The Workers’ Compensation Act is littered with landmines of deadlines that if an Employer/Carrier does not abide by can exponentially increase the value of their claims.   Understanding those deadlines (the 3-day rule, the 5-day rule, the 10-day rule, etc. . .) is imperative.

As strict as those rules are, there is going to be some kind of gamesmanship by Claimant attorneys.  We have all received that 4:55 pm fax on a Friday requesting a one time change.   We’ve all rushed to respond (with a doctor’s name!) before the following Tuesday passes.

However, we should all take a deep breath and realize that the Rules of Civil Procedure afford E/C’s a reasonable calculation of those “strict” deadlines and we have more time than we think.

Rule 60Q-6.109 sets the computation of time for chapter 440.  For any time period mentioned in the statute, “the day of the act or event from which the designated period of time begins shall not be included.”   For example, let’s use the 5-day rule for a request for a one time change.  If you get that ominous fax from Claimant attorney on a Monday, the 5 day clock does not begin until Tuesday.  Monday is not “Day 1.”

If any deadline falls on a weekend or legal holiday (see section 110.117) the deadline moves to the on the next regular work day.  So in our example, you get the request for one time change on a Monday, the 5-day deadline begins on Tuesday.  The fifth day falls on a Saturday, therefore you have until the next Monday to respond.  In essence, this gives you a whole 7 days to respond under the 5 day rule!

Finally, when the deadline required by the statute is less than 7 days, then you do not count Saturday and Sundays or legal holidays at all.  So for the 3-day rule and the 5-day rule, if there are weekend days or legal holidays in between the start of the deadline and the deadline itself then you have more time.   Once again, going back to our 5-day rule example, if you get the ominous one time change fax at 4:30 pm on Friday, you do not count Friday, you do not count the weekend.  Your time starts on the following Monday and your deadline is the following Friday.  Once again, this means you have a whole 7 days to respond.

So the next time a Claimant attorney yells at you for violating the 5 day rule or paying a TPD award past the 7 day requirement (s. 440.20), look to Rule 60Q-6.109 and see where the deadline falls on the calendar.  You probably have more time than you think.