Steps for reopening a previously closed workers’ comp claim
There are times when reopening a workers’ compensation claim is possible in Arizona.
According to the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA):
“The injured worker can file a petition to reopen a closed claim to secure additional benefits on the basis of new, additional or previously undiscovered conditions.”
Some examples could be a workplace illness that worsens with time or when the effects of an injury worsen. In some cases, there may be cause to prove that your insurer committed fraud when getting you to agree to a settlement.
When you think circumstances may warrant reopening your case, you may benefit from the advice of an Arizona work injury attorney. Find out if reopening your case is possible and receive the guidance you need in your case. The steps that you take concerning reopening the case may impact your overall success.
When can you reopen a workers’ compensation case?
There are a few exceptions to the usual rules about how long a workers’ comp claim stays open. Although these exceptions are circumstances worthy of consideration, you will likely benefit from using an attorney’s assistance.
Arizona has no statute of limitations on when to reopen a workers’ comp case.
Clerical errors or attorney mistakes that make a claim amount inaccurate are 1 reason why a case may be eligible for reopening. Having the case reopened allows these types of errors to be corrected faster. Even relatively minor clerical errors have the potential to impact the outcome of your case.
An inaccurate previous award may be another reason to reopen a case. When you have evidence supporting this claim, the error can be resolved with the case’s reopening. Underpaid awards are retroactively payable.
When you can prove that your condition has gotten measurably worse since your claim’s settlement, you can reopen your claim. The worsened condition must relate to the original illness or injury rather than aging or a subsequent injury. Medical records or other documentation from your doctor may be necessary.
An improvement of your condition can also warrant reopening your case. Making the necessary updates to reflect your current condition will help you to avoid an error of fact. Injured workers who received benefits found to be overpaid may have to pay some of the benefits back.
In situations where the settlement included subsequent care, reopening the case is not necessary. For all intents and purposes, the medical condition is treated as it was before settlement. As with any other workers’ compensation case where new information comes into play, you will need documentation from your doctor or access to the necessary medical records.
When you have already signed a full, final release settlement, it won’t be easy to reopen your case. One of the things you agree to in exchange for this settlement is forfeiting your right to future claims. Understanding what you agree to when you sign this release is essential.
However, reopening your case after full and final release is possible. One such example is when the injured worker can prove that the insurance company used fraudulent means when they had you sign the agreement in the first place.
Evidence you may need to start a new work injury claim
Medical evidence may be necessary to support your request to reopen the case. Your doctor will need to fill out a report or provide forms that meet particular criteria. The claim needs the right information to help ensure the greatest possibility of success.
You will be required to document which medical treatments are necessary and how the original condition or illness has gotten worse. You will also need to prove that the original illness or injury caused your worsened condition.
Sometimes, starting a new claim might be a better alternative to reopening a workers’ comp claim. Worsened disabilities are often treated as cumulative claims, which the state treats as new claims. Every workers’ compensation case is different, which means that there is not always one solution that fits all circumstances.
Because every person’s condition affects them differently, these cases are often somewhat complex. Repetitive injuries—including both the new and the old—and chronic pain, are often the basis for these cases.
An attorney’s guidance can help you decide whether reopening an old case or starting a new one is a better path to choose. Your choice can have a long-term impact on your life, making the right choice all the more crucial.
Time limits on reopening a claim
One of the questions that cause anxiety for injured workers is how long a workers’ comp claim stays open. Many states have claim deadlines that result in benefits being forfeited if not pursued within the allotted time.
Arizona does not have a statute of limitations for reopening workers’ compensation cases. A Petition to Reopen may be filed at any point after the initial illness or injury, providing necessary relief for workers who have seen their conditions worsen.
You are likely to want a lawyer’s advice when you are considering reopening a workers’ compensation case. Hiring an attorney allows for a professional review of the case and the options available.
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