Reopening a Workers’ Compensation Case? What You Need to Know
Not everyone likes to think back to their day in workers’ compensation court. Many would prefer to put it behind them. At the time, it seemed great that everything was all over. However, your symptoms from the original accident have increased. You remember that your attorney said something about reopening your workers’ compensation case, but you’re really not sure what that means.
First and foremost, there are a few things you need to know about reopening a workers’ compensation case. One, not all matters can be reopened. And, two, the ones that are eligible include time limitations. Lastly, keep in mind that reopening your case is not necessarily about receiving additional money. The reality is that you may need to go back to court to request more authorized medical treatment.
Anyone who has experienced a workplace injury learns two things: injuries often get worse over time and it’s rare that victims ever get back to optimal job performance. Delayed effects and the continuing decline in workplace performance are precisely why so many feel the need to file workers’ compensation claims every year. As of August of 2017, the Department of Labor reports that over 630 New Jersey employees have reopened their workers’ compensation cases.
Of course, there are some factors necessary to determine if your case is even eligible for reopening within the workers’ compensation system.
How was Your Case Initially Resolved?
For starters, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can let you know if your case can be reopened. Think back to the date you were in court. Were you advised on the record that your claim was settled under the provisions of “Section 20”? This type of settlement will also be marked on the Order you received indicating the case was concluded.
You might think of a Section 20 award as a “full settlement,” which means you will likely be unable to revisit the issue. A full settlement includes the agreement that, in exchange for a specified lump sum, the claimant relinquishes their right to reopen the case. However, this just means that you can’t reopen the case associated with that particular accident or occupational exposure.
Even if your case ended in a Section 20 settlement, you should still speak with an attorney. Upon review, there may be a correlation between your symptoms and a new accident or new exposure.
Know the Time Limits
Each state has different deadlines for reopening a workers’ comp case. New Jersey requires claimants to refile within two years of receiving their last payment from their previous award. The statute of limitations also extends from two years of the last date of authorized medical treatment. As a reminder, authorized medical treatment refers to the doctors or other medical providers that the insurance company has agreed to pay. Therefore, seeking out your own medical attention is not a way to extend the statute of limitations. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can work with you to ensure you are following the law as to reopening your case.
Unfortunately, the insurance company may tell you that your case is closed, only because they do not have an open file. Rather than rely on them for assistance, it is best to seek legal counsel to get your questions answered.
Get the Money and Justice You Deserve
The workers’ compensation attorneys at Beninato and Matrafajlo are ready to fight for you as you seek to reopen your claim. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to find out what we can do for you. We’ve helped many clients successfully reopen their claims and get the money they deserve.