Workers' compensation cases can be closed for a variety of different reasons. However, just because you have received a notification that your case has been closed, it does not mean it's the end of the road. Under certain circumstances, workers' compensation cases can be reopened, but it is important to note that the process is not always an easy one.
It's important to distinguish that workers' compensation laws and guidelines are not handled at the federal level. Instead, these guidelines are established by each state, and as a result, the standard for reopening a case is across the board. However, a common requirement for most states is a medical qualification.
When it comes to reopening a closed case, a medical qualification is any information that shows your injury or condition has significantly worsened since the time the case settled, and as a result of this degeneration, your level of disability has increased and need for compensation has increased.
New Information or Errors
Many states also leave a path for a case to be reopened when there is evidence of new information or errors with the initial case, even if your injuries have not progressed. Consider someone who experiences a spine injury from a fall at work, for instance. Assume the initial diagnosis of the injury was a fracture to the thoracic spine.
However, after the case was closed, a medical exam revealed that the lumbar spine was also fractured. In this instance, the injury did not progress, but more information became available about the injury. If there was any information omitted or reported incorrectly on the initial claim this can also prompt a reopening of a case.
Requirement to Notify
Keep in mind that even if you do have a valid reason to reopen your workers' compensation claim, you are still required to notify all parties involved before you submit any filings to the courts. Common parties that you need to notify include your employer at the time of the injury and their insurance company.
Only after you have completed this step can you request a hearing. It's also important to note that you should make these notifications as soon as possible, as some states have time limits in place that control how long after a claim has been closed that it can be reopened.
If you need to have your workers' compensation case opened or altered, you need to speak with a workers compensation attorney. From assisting you with the qualification process to a formal request and beyond, an attorney can help you make the changes you need.