When this happens, you may think that you don't have the right to reopen your claim. This isn't necessarily true. You can reopen your claim as long as you are within the permitted timeframe to do so.
When Can You Reopen a Claim?
When and if you can reopen a worker's compensation claim largely depends on the circumstances surrounding your claim. There are typically two different statutes of limitations for reopening a closed claim: no award was made in the case, and you have new evidence to present.
A worker's compensation claim in Florida is considered forever barred unless it is filed within two years from the date of injury or after the initial two years, it is within one year of the last compensation payment or within a year of the last authorized medical treatment.
Why You Would Reopen a Claim
Sometimes people choose to take a payout following their worker's compensation claims because it makes the most sense for them at the time. However, this falls under the assumption that your condition won't deteriorate after the settlement.
You may be eligible to reopen your worker's compensation claim if your worsened condition is related to the original work injury, the medical condition warrants additional benefits, and if it is less than two years from the date of your injury or the date of your last medical benefits and care.
The eligibility really comes down to your original settlement. For example, a Section 20 settlement is often considered final, but a judge may reopen a Section 22 settlement if they feel you meet all the criteria for doing so.
Other Factors to Consider
Once you have determined whether your claim can be reopened or not, there are still other factors to consider. If you are receiving a lump sum payment under Section 20 as mentioned above, you will not be eligible because the settlement resulted in a full and final claim dismissal.
If your condition has worsened, you need to show proof and show that your worsened condition actually warrants a reopened claim to pursue additional compensation. However, if you have begun to develop an unrelated condition, you will have to file a new claim, and it cannot be included when reopening an old claim.
Additionally, if the change in your condition has impacted your ability to seek employment and earn wages, this may also be grounds to reopen your old worker's compensation claim. Again, you have to make sure that you are still within the time limits. You can't just decide to open a 20-year-old case. To formally reopen the claim, you have to be within two years of the date of injury.
Since it can be a complicated and tricky process, it is a good idea to discuss your case with a qualified personal injury attorney. They are familiar with the various worker's compensation laws and can make sure you fit the criteria to reopen your claim. If not, they can help you find other options that may work in your situation.
Remember, laws are always changing, and you will need someone to review your closed claim before taking action, so don't hesitate to get help today..