Reopening An Old Workers Comp Claim
The thing that hurts more than being unable to work due to unemployment is not working after being injured on the job.
A U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study concludes that over 2.8 million American workers were injured or made ill on their worksite. That is the equivalent of almost three out of every 100 American workers.
The average workers’ compensation claim is about $41,000 on the low-end and $78,400 at the high-end estimate.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, the typical American annual salary was only $48,600, or $930 weekly. That estimate is bound to be lower now in the economic aftermath of the pandemic.
So, if you suffer a workplace injury and receive a workers compensation award, it may not necessarily be enough to cover your expenses.
And if you realize that your work-related injury has worsened since you accepted a settlement, what do you do if you think you should reopen an old workers comp claim?
Would you even be successful if you tried to do such a thing?
Do you need guidance on how to reopen an old workers comp claim? Contact the professionals at Invictus Law now.
Can You Reopen an Old Workers Comp Claim?
The short answer is technically no; you can’t open an old workers comp claim case if you accepted a final settlement claim from your old employer.
The long answer is a technical yes; you may be able to reopen an old workers comp claim against your former employer.
But reopening an old worker comp claim can only be done under the most exacting circumstances relative to the labor laws of your state of residence.
Also, the longer the period between the finalization of your original workers’ comp claim and a new attempt to reopen that original, finalized claim, the less likely you will be successful.
According to most labor law mandates and doctrines, your former boss or employment place is not under any legal obligation to reopen your old workers’ comp claim after a final settlement.
However, let’s say that you wanted to reopen an old workers comp case – how would you get started?
What would be the exacting conditions or circumstances upon which you could reopen an old workers comp claim?
Reopening an Old Workers Comp Claim
To reopen an old workers comp claim, you should first seek a professional workers comp claim lawyer’s guidance and counsel.
Your lawyer would then contact your former employer or the workers’ compensation insurance representative of your former employer in this situation.
Do not try to initiate such a request on your own. Contacting your former employers or their insurance representative on your own could be legally detrimental and counterproductive to your goals.
Your former employer could try to legally claim that your original workers’ comp injury claim was not as severe as you initially claimed.
An excellent legal representative for your former employer could make the case that your original workers’ comp claim injury was not as bad as you claimed if you are solely undertaking your investigation.
You could find yourself in a legal situation where you could have to pay back your former employer the money they paid you in your original workers’ comp claim.
Most workers comp claim lawyers will not charge you for an initial consultation. You will need to bring along every medical, evidentiary, and affiliated document related to your original workers’ comp claim.
After an initial consultation, your lawyer should be able to tell you if you have the legal legitimacy to reopen an old claim.
If you signed a “compromise and release” settlement document concerning your original workers’ comp settlement, your hopes of reopening an old workers comp claim could be dead in the water.
When you sign a compromise and release form, you have agreed to finalize workers comp settlement and receive a lump sum payment, usually a lot more than the lost wages and medical bill recoupment that you were initially seeking.
And if you signed a compromise and release settlement document, you waive the legal right to revisit, reopen, or renegotiate the settlement with your employer. And you wave away this right even if your original injuries worsen after the compromise and release settlement.
Not every state allows for the signing of compromise and release settlements, however. Injured employees who sign these forms may not have any legal representation nor fully understand the rights they waive away.
However, barring all of those mentioned above, let’s assume your legal representative thinks you may have a chance to reopen an old workers comp case. Here are a few circumstances where you may be successful.
Related – STEPS TO DOCUMENT YOUR WORK INJURY
If you experience worsening or deteriorating medical problems related to your original workers’ comp claim, you need to explore reopening your old claim as soon as possible legally.
You also need to provide medical documentation and proof that the injury incurred on your previous job has been aggravated or worsened since leaving and accepting the original claim.
Also, you would need to prove that you didn’t aggravate your injuries by going back to work sooner than you should have before healing properly.
The timeline to settle and then potentially reopen an old workers comp claim differs from state to state.
However, waiting years to reopen an old workers comp claim will not benefit your benefit.
You could potentially reopen an old workers comp case if you can prove your former employer engaged in fraud to affect your original claim’s outcome.
However, the burden will be entirely on you and your lawyer to prove fraud in such circumstances. It will be on you to uncover fraudulent statements, documents, and actions on the part of your former employer relative to your old workers’ comp claim and settlement.
You will need concrete evidence of fraud, and it will be costly to accomplish this with the aid of a lawyer.
The prohibitive costs of uncovering fraud with your lawyer may be greater than the workers’ comp settlement claim increase you are seeking.
And if you are not careful, your former employer could sue you for public defamation if you can’t prove your fraud claim.
Get Professional Legal Help to Reopen and Old Workers Comp Claim
Time is not on your side if you want to reopen an old workers comp claim. It will be expensive to do so and will potentially leave you open to retaliatory lawsuits as well.
If you want to reopen an old workers comp claim, contact Invictus Law today.