You may have grounds to reopen a closed workers’ compensation claim even after receiving the final payout. Certain circumstances, such as a worsening medical condition or new evidence supporting your claim, can convince a judge to reopen your case.
That said, you have limited time to make your application. You can consult a workers’ compensation attorney from our team to learn about the possibility of reopening your claim. Our firm can assess your case and advise you whether your case meets the threshold for exceptions in reopening workers’ compensation claims.
Reasons for Reopening a Closed Workers’ Compensation Claim
Typically, two major circumstances can lead to the reopening of your case. One would be where you received no award for your compensation claim. The second is discovering new evidence that can change a judge’s view of your case.
Common scenarios that lead to the reopening of closed workers’ compensation claims include:
Worsening Medical Conditions
You can reopen your workers’ compensation claim by showing your medical condition or disability has worsened since you resolved your case. However, you may need to prove that the change is due to the original work-related injury or illness.
You also need to show that you deserve extra compensation benefits for your worsening medical condition. For example, the courts may decline your request to reopen the case if your final payout includes future medical bills.
Legal or Procedural Errors
In Georgia, for example, you can reopen your compensation claims due to errors of law or material facts. The mistakes may be mutual. You can use the errors as a legal basis to reopen the case and have them corrected.
Inaccuracy in the award process is a popular reason for workers seeking to reopen their compensation claims. You may have received no award for your work-related injuries or compensation benefits lower than what you deserve.
Additionally, your award might not have included a specific class of benefits. You can request to reopen your compensation claim to resolve the inaccurate award.
If you discover that the insurance carrier knowingly made a false representation of a material fact to deny your claim, you are entitled to reopen your case. Insurance companies may use questionable tactics to try to settle your claim quickly, some of which may constitute fraud.
A workers’ compensation attorney from our firm can assess your claim and identify any illegal actions the insurance company took.
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How do You Reopen Your Closed Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Seeking to reopen your claim or modify the compensation benefits begins by submitting a form to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. You also need to notify your employer or the insurance carrier.
Your motion should be accompanied by supporting evidence that proves why the court should reopen the case. The administrative law judges can then decide whether to begin afresh or reestablish your old claim.
What Evidence Will You Need to Reopen Your Workers’ Compensation Claim?
The qualifying exceptions allowed for reopening a closed claim place a considerable burden on the claimant to prove the need to reexamine their benefits.
You may require evidence of the following:
- Medical reports of the worsened workplace injury and how the condition is tied to your original claim
- Income reports on how the worsening injury impacted your ability to earn
- Evidence of legal or material error in the judge’s verdict on your case
A workers’ compensation lawyer from our firm can work with you to consolidate the necessary evidence to support your motion for reopening your claim.
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The Statute of Limitations for Reopening Workers’ Compensation Claims
Most states have tight deadlines for claimants wishing to reopen their worker compensation claims. According to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-82, you must generally make the initial claim within one year after injury.
In Georgia, one can apply for reopening a closed compensation claim within one year after the date of the last remedial treatment or two years after the date of the final payment of weekly benefits.
Specific exceptions to the statutes of limitations may apply. Consulting our workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine whether you are eligible and within the deadlines set.
Should You Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
The regulations surrounding opening a closed workers’ compensation claim can be pretty complex. From a higher burden of proof that the extra benefits are necessary and tied to the original injury to the tight statute of limitations, you may require a workers’ compensation attorney to explain your rights.
Get Help Reopening Your Closed Workers’ Compensation Claim
The Bader Scott Injury Lawyers team can help you. We can assess your case and help you determine if you are eligible to reopen your closed workers’ compensation claim. Our team can also help you to gather the evidence necessary to support your motion.
To learn more about workers’ compensation laws, speak to a member of our team today.