Being injured on the job is an immense setback, and because workers’ compensation claims tend to be challenging, finalizing yours and receiving the benefits you need to address your losses and reach your fullest recovery is a relief.
If, however, your benefits are coming to an end, but you have decidedly not recovered, it puts you in a difficult position.
The fact is that there are circumstances in which reopening an old workers’ comp case is a possibility, and an experienced Greenville workers’ compensation attorney can help you with that.
Workers’ Compensation Clincher Agreements
The answer to “Can a workers’ comp case be reopened?” is that it is a possibility, as long as you haven’t signed what is known as a clincher agreement – or a final release.
These signed documents relieve the employer and their workers’ compensation provider from further liability regarding your claim, even if your condition does not improve or even worsens. Because signing a clincher agreement forfeits your ability to reopen a workers’ compensation case, it’s something you should not consider doing without seasoned legal counsel.
The Requirements to Reopen a Workers’ Comp Claim
To reopen a workers’ compensation claim in South Carolina, there are specific requirements that must be met, including:
- The worsening injury or illness you are experiencing must be causally linked to the original workplace injury that led to the workers’ compensation case you are attempting to reopen.
- Your change in condition is not a distinct injury that was addressed in your original workers’ compensation claim.
- Your change in condition occurred after your original workers’ compensation award was granted. State law prohibits using a condition that you were suffering from at the time of your original application to reopen a workers’ compensation case.
- The timeframe available to you for reopening a workers’ compensation case – which is 12 months from the date of your last workers’ compensation benefits payment – has not elapsed.
If your situation meets all these state requirements, you can initiate the process of reopening an old workers’ compensation claim in response to a worsening condition – that you can prove. The path forward, however, is legally complex. Having professional legal guidance on your side is well-advised.
Reopening Your Workers’ Compensation Case
Judges are naturally hesitant to reopen cases that have already been finalized, which makes reopening a workers’ compensation case challenging from the outset.
To begin, you’ll need to file the appropriate forms correctly, and the burden of proving that you meet the requirements to proceed and are in need of further benefits is on you. Doing so amounts to providing medical evidence that demonstrates your condition has worsened or that you’re more disabled now than you were at the time of your original award.
As such, you’ll need to gather and compile health reports from your medical team – along with regular health updates.
The Importance of Your Treating Physician
If your authorized treating physician believes that the precipitating injury or condition behind your original workers’ compensation case has worsened, it will be difficult for the insurance company to argue with this informed opinion from a medical professional who has been working with you all along.
In other words, your doctor’s opinion will play a major role in your attempt to reopen your case, and much of the evidence that you present to the court will flow from this source.
How a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help
You are tasked with convincing the judge that the workers’ compensation benefits you received as a result of your original case ended up not being adequate to cover the injuries you’ve actually suffered. At the same time, the insurance provider is heavily invested in keeping your case closed as a matter of profitability.
Enter your dedicated workers’ compensation attorney, who will take on all the following primary tasks in their focused effort to reopen your case and obtain the compensation to which you’re entitled:
- Compile the evidence and facts in relation to your worsening condition
- Skillfully evaluate the strengths and challenges of your case from every angle
- Help you map out a strategic plan forward and help you make the right decisions for you along the way
- Deftly represent you before the judge, your employer, and their workers’ compensation insurance provider
- Point out any inconsistencies in terms of your compensation in your original case and, as appropriate, any fraud on the part of your employer or the insurance company
Having a knowledgeable attorney in your corner can significantly improve your ability to obtain the compensation you need to regain your health and well-being fully.
Contact a Skilled Greenville Workers’ Compensation Attorney for the Help You Need
The trusted workers’ compensation accident attorneys at Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm in Greenville, South Carolina, understand how difficult it is to laboriously make your way through a workers’ compensation claim alone.
We dedicate our practice to helping clients like you recover on their actual losses via whatever legal means are necessary, including successfully reopening workers’ compensation claims. Your health and your recovery are important to us.
Contact us online or call us at 864-280-7660 for more information about how we can help you today.
Workers’ Compensation Claim FAQs
How long do you have to reopen a workers’ comp claim?
In South Carolina, you have 12 months from the date of your final workers’ compensation benefit payment to reopen your workers’ compensation claim.
Is having a workers’ compensation attorney really necessary?
Because your recovery is paramount and because reaching your fullest recovery can hinge on obtaining the compensation to which you are entitled, it is to your advantage to work closely with an accomplished workers’ compensation attorney.
On what will reopening my workers’ compensation claim be based?
You can reopen your case if your original condition or injury has worsened in the interim – since you were originally awarded benefits.