What You Need to Know about Reopening Your Workers Compensation Case?
Court orders seem to add finality to many types of cases. However, some workers’ compensation matters are the exception. Just because the judge put through an award, doesn’t mean you can’t go back. What do you need to know about reopening your workers’ compensation case?
There are rules regarding workers’ compensation cases. Time deadlines. The assumption that a new accident has not caused injuries. And, there is one type of workers’ compensation order that is considered final. It cannot be reopened. Let’s review the basics.
Basics of Workers’ Compensation Reopener Claims
We mentioned that some workers’ compensation cases cannot be reopened. Let’s start there. In all likelihood, the judge mentioned that your settlement was final at the time of your hearing. Your attorney may have also provided you with the same information.
Take a look at our blog on Section 20 awards. If your claim was disputed, you may have agreed to take a lump sum settlement. The section of the law that deals with Section 20 awards specifically states that the effect of the settlement “shall be final and conclusive upon the employee and the employee’s dependents, and shall be a complete surrender of any right to compensation or other benefits arising out of such claim under the statute.”
One caution. Don’t assume that you received a Section 20 settlement. Make sure you have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney review the order executed by the judge.
With the exception of Section 20 awards, you can go back to court. Here’s some things to take into consideration:
You need further medical treatment to the same part of the body
You have not reinjured the same part of the body in an intervening accident
It is less than two years since the last date of payment from the workers’ compensation carrier
You may be further incapacitated as a result of the original injury
You cannot seek to reopen a claim citing additional permanent disability if you were already awarded total disability.
What’s the procedure? The law regarding reopener workers’ compensation claims is found at NJSA 34:15-27. Your attorney will follow paperwork with the court seeking modification of the original order filed with the court.
You should know that any modifications made will be based on the original date of accident. We previously explained the rates set for 2016 accidents. Charts are available for prior years as well.
Did you receive a workers’ compensation award and feel you meet the criteria to reopen your case? Contact us to see how we can assist you.