Can My Worker’s Compensation Case be Reopened?
Workers’ Compensation Claim Attorney in Shreveport, Louisiana
Experienced Louisiana Lawyer Helps Reopen Closed Claims
Though your workers’ compensation claim was settled, unforeseen medical problems have since arisen. Not only you but also your doctor thought your job site injury or illness was stable and your needs were specifically provided for in your settlement, so your claim was closed. But now you’re having unexpected symptoms because of your medical issues, and you need additional treatment and/or accommodations for your job-related injury or illness.
But you’re worried because your claim was closed, and you hope that doesn’t mean your case can’t be reopened. If your condition has unexpectedly worsened or new information indicates your disability is more severe than your physician had previously determined, you may be able to have your case reopened or modified.
Conditions Necessary to Reopen or Modify A Closed Workers’ Compensation Claim
If you have medical evidence that shows your condition or disability has worsened since your claim was settled, you may be entitled to have your case reopened or modified. The Labor Code provides for these circumstances to justify reopening or modifying your claim and include when:
- The injury or illness has unpredictably become worse.
- The injury or illness was thought to be fully healed, but its symptoms have returned.
- New evidence has been discovered indicating the case award wasn’t equitable.
- A legal or factual mistake was in the court’s order.
- The insurance company acted fraudulently.
- An administrative or clerical error was made in the final award.
If any of these conditions can be proven, your claim could be reopened or modified.
Under these circumstances, if you need new medical care and need to go back on temporary or permanent disability and have your additional treatment expenses covered, a workers’ compensation judge has the authority to open or modify a closed claim. But you will need to prove that there is compelling evidence to support your new claim that wasn’t available during your when it was settled.
Challenges of Reopening or Modifying Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
Once a workers’ compensation claim is closed, it is extremely difficult to convince a judge to reopen or modify it. How challenging it will depend on the type of settlement you signed—whether it was a Compromise and Release agreement or a Structured Settlement.
If you signed a Compromise and Release and received a lump sum of money in exchange for releasing any further claims against your employer, it may be impossible to reopen your claim. However, if it’s determined under certain stipulations that it was illegal under the conditions of the settlement for you to have given up your right to future medical care, reopening or modifying your claim may be possible. To determine whether the law wasn’t followed when you gave up your rights will likely require an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to evaluate your settlement agreement.
On the other hand, if you signed a Structured Settlement which provided payments to you over a designated time period, opening or modifying your case may be more easily possible.
The workers’ compensation administrative law judges have the authority to approve or deny your request to reopen or modify your claim. But they are not required by law to do so. To convince a judge to reopen your case requires documented, compelling evidence about the change in or worsening of your medical condition. For instance, a well written, thorough petition documenting your worsened condition is invaluable evidence in a request to reopen your claim. To present a case with the potential to be decided in your favor may require the assistance of a skilled, experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Workers’ Compensation Case Reopening Process Is Complex and Confusing—Tim Fischer Employee Law Attorney Team Can Help
The rules and procedures for reopening a workers’ compensation claim are complex and confusing for a person unfamiliar with Louisiana Labor codes. The experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Tim Fischer Law can guide you through the process if your medical condition—physical and/or psychological—has unpredictably and unexpectedly changed after your case was closed.
Statute of Limitations for Reopening or Modifying A Closed Case—Don’t Lose Your Right to the Additional Benefits You Deserve
To receive additional workers’ compensation benefits, it’s critical you meet statute of limitations deadlines. To reopen a claim, you have limited time. If you miss any of these strict deadlines, you will be forever barred from receiving further benefits. A knowledgeable employee injury attorney knows the statute of limitation deadlines required to reopen or modify workers’ compensation to ensure you comply.
Contact Tim Fischer to Begin the Critical Process to Reopen or Modify Your Benefits
Because time is critical to successfully reopen or modify your closed workers’ compensation claim, our skilled, respectful lawyers are prepared to help. To discuss your unique circumstances, it’s easy to begin the conversation by calling 318.869.0304 for your free, no obligation case assessment. Or simply send us a private, confidential message on our case review form. And if you’re too injured or sick to come to us, we’ll meet with you at home, in the hospital or at a rehabilitation facility.