Is It Possible To Re-Open A Workers' Comp Case?

Law Blog

In many instances, the workers' compensation claim ends once the worker has returned back to work and recovered fully from his or her injuries. However, there are some instances in which it is necessary for the claim to stay open for an extended period of time. If you believe that you are entitled to benefits beyond those you were initially offered, here is what you need to know. 

Can You Receive Benefits If Your Condition Worsens?

In the event that your condition returns or worsens after the workers' compensation claim has been paid, there is a chance that you can still receive benefits. Whether or not you can depends on the wording of your settlement agreement. 

Some agreements include language that allows for future benefits if the condition returns or worsens. For instance, if you suffered a back injury in the workplace accident that led to the initial claim and years later, your doctor recommended surgery to alleviate recurring pain, your benefits could possibly cover the cost of the surgery, lost wages, and additional medical care. You would simply need to contact your employer's insurance company and re-open your claim. However, this is only possible if your claim was not a full and final release. 

A full and final release would end any responsibility your employer and the insurance company had for your injury. There is an exception, though, that could possibly allow you to re-open your claim and receive benefits. If you live in a state that allows for the re-opening of claims involving injuries that recurred or became worse, you can use the law to get the needed benefits. There could possibly be a time restriction that limits the amount of time you have to re-open your case. 

What If You Have Permanent Scarring?

Even with good medical treatment, there are some injuries that result in permanent scarring. Ideally, the scarring that you received was included in the initial rating of your disability by the insurance company and you were paid for it. 

However, if it was difficult to determine the full extent of the scarring at the time of the settlement and you believe that you should receive additional benefits because the level of disfigurement is now evident and not properly compensated for, you can possibly re-open your case. 

Some states have laws that allow for a one-time settlement for scarring. If you did not receive the amount, you can file a claim to request it. 

There are many other situations in which you can potentially ask for your claim to be re-opened. Since workers' compensation laws can vary from state to state, consult with a workers' comp attorney in your area who is familiar with the laws and can help you determine if you have a case. 


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