Did you agree to receive payments in the wake of a workers comp claim only to wonder if you made a mistake? Perhaps your injury or disability worsened over time. Or, maybe there’s another reason you feel your claim remains incomplete or wrong. You are far from alone. A reader recently wrote in about this exact situation:
Reader question: “If I already signed off on my workers comp claim, can I reopen it?”
Answer: In some cases, yes — but it depends on where you live and why you want to reopen it.
3 Legal Reasons to Reopen Your Workers Comp Claim
In most states, there are three reasons why you can legally reopen a workers comp claim:
- Fraud on the part of your employer
- Errors or mistakes on your original claim
- A worsening medical condition
Again, fraud or errors are usually always acceptable reasons to reopen a workers comp claim. And in certain states, worsening disability might be another good reason. For example, in Colorado, you have two years after you sign off to do this if you meet the requirements. Those requirements hold that you can only reopen a claim if you suspect fraud, an error, a mistake — or your condition changes for the worse.
In the state of Indiana, the law is similar. The statute of limitations lasts for two years after the last date you received compensation. Alternatively, you have two years from the date of your injury. If you settled with your employer in Indiana, then you cannot reopen your claim unless you can prove there was fraud involved in the settlement process.
Is the statute of limitations in question (or are you very close to the end of the one in your state?). If so, then you should send reopening application via certified mail. Otherwise, your filing date is the date the board receives your document.
IMPORTANT: In most states, the local Workers Compensation Board is unable to give legal advice about statute of limitations specific to a certain claim. Therefore, you may need to contact your own legal counsel.
Quick Summary of Rules in Other States Where You May Reopen a Workers Comp Claim
- Pennsylvania — You have three years from the date you received your last workers’ compensation check to file a claim petition contesting termination of payments.
- Washington — You can apply to reopen a claim if your medical condition’s worse and the claim closed more than 60 days ago.
- Illinois — You have the right to reopen your case within 30 months after your award if your condition grows worse. Cases resolved by a lump-sum settlement contract approved by the Commission cannot be reopened, however.
- Arizona — You or your authorized representative may petition to reopen a previously closed claim to secure additional benefits due to new, additional, or previously undiscovered temporary or permanent conditions. The petition to reopen form must include a statement from your doctor. This statement should describe the physical condition which serves the reason for reopening your claim and how it relates to your original workplace injury.
As you can see, each state is a little bit different when it comes to workers comp reopening rules. For this reason, it’s smart to talk through your situation with a workers comp attorney in your state. An attorney can evaluate whether you have a good enough reason to reopen your claim free of charge.
Are You a Federal Employee?
For federal employees, the Department of Labor has clear rules and policies regarding workers comp claim re-openings. These statutes include the following points:
- There is no limit to how many times you may request a reopening.
- You may file a request for reopening at any time after the Final Adjudication Branch issues a Final Decision.
- New medical records or documentation should be submitted, which clearly establishes a diagnosis of a medical condition or the existence of a percentage of permanent partial impairment, previously denied in a Final Decision due to insufficient medical evidence.
- If you don’t submit any new evidence, or what you submit isn’t enough to support your request, then the DD issues a Denial of Request for Reopening.
Talk to a Workers Comp Attorney Today
An expert advocate can help you understand the complex workers’ compensation laws in your state. Speak to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer for free about your case reopening options.
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Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.