Key Points of the Judgment:

Employees suffering work-related injury may apply for identification of work-related injury within one year after the occurrence of the injury, if the employer fails to apply for identification of work-related injury in a timely manner. The labor bureau will not accept application after the expiry of one year, unless the delay is due to the occurrence of force majeure.

Key Facts:

In February 2012, Mr. Yang work as steal fixer at the Suzhou construction site of Longxin Group, which contributed work-related injury insurance for Mr. Yang. On March 17, Mr. Yang crashed into a station wagon when he was riding a bike. He was injured and diagnosed as laceration of scalp and compression fracture of the tenth thoracic vertebra. The traffic accident report, issued by the local traffic and patrol police department, indicated that the driver of the station wagon was at fault, provided that the whole fact of this accident could no longer be testified.

On March 12, 2013, Mr. Yang filed a civil lawsuit with the court of Suzhou Industrial Park. The court ruled that the concerned traffic accident happens between a motor vehicle and a non-motorized vehicle, and since the driver of the station wagon was held at fault, it is presumed that he should undertake any and all civil liabilities consequently.

On October 8, 2013, Mr. Yang realized he was entitled to claim for work-related injury insurance, and submitted the application for work-related injury identification with the human resources and social security bureau of Haimen City. Upon the examination and review, the bureau held that such application was beyond the 1-year time limit stipulated by the laws and regulations. One week later, the bureau issued a letter entitled the Decision of Not Accepting the Application for Work-related Injury Identification. Mr. Yang challenged such decision and filed an administrative lawsuit with the court of Gangzha District, Nantong City.

The court ruled that, a work-related injured employee is entitled to apply for work-related injury identification on his own within one year from the date of injury, unless there is a force majeure causing delay to the application. If applying after the one-year time limit, labor and social security administrative department will not accept such application. In this case, the plaintiff, Mr. Yang, was the victim of a road accident in March 17, 2012, while his application was submitted to the Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security on October 8, 2013, which apparently exceeds the one-year time limit provided in paragraph 2 of Article 17 of the Regulations on Work-related Injury Insurance. Mr. Yang failed to provide evidence proving that the delay is due to force majeure circumstances, and the decision of the Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security is in line with relevant laws and regulations. Therefore the judgment dismissed the plaintiff's claim.

Mr. Yang challenged such judgment and filed an appeal with the competent intermediate court.

Judgment:

The intermediate court of Nantong City held that, in the trial of 1st instance, the facts are clear and the laws are applied properly. Thus the appeal is dismissed and the original verdict is sustained.

Court Reasons:

Paragraph 2 of Article 17 of the Regulations on Work-related Injury Insurance provides that injured employees, their immediate family members and the labor union is entitled to apply directly for work-related injury identification with labor and social security administrative department of the co-ordinate region where the employer is located, within 1 year from the date of the accident or the date when the occupational disease is diagnosed or appraised.

This provision provides a right rather than an obligation for injured employees and their immediate family members. For those who hesitate to exercise such right will bear the adverse consequence of the loss of rights accordingly.

 The Regulations on Work-related Injury Insurance stipulates that the time limit for work-related injury application is 1 year, partially intending to facilitate the injured employees’ collection of relevant evidence and the protection of their legitimate rights and interests; and partially intending to urge applicants to promptly claim their rights within the specified time.

Source: People’s Court Daily

KWM Comments: The one-year time limit for applying for identification of work-related injuries as set out in the Provisions on Work-related Injury Insurance is neither the limitation for action nor the period during which a certain right is valid, thus there is a flaw in the wording of the judgment. In fact, failure to make an application within the one-year time limit in this case does not eliminate any of this employee’s right but subject the employee to some adverse consequences arising out of the administrative law. Notwithstanding the above consequences, the impacted employee may still be entitled to apply for the arbitration or file for a lawsuit in relation to the work-related injury benefits.