When you’re injured on the job, receiving your workers’ compensation benefits can be an uphill battle. So when you finally receive your workers’ comp check, it is a significant relief.
But what happens when those benefits run out before you fully recover from your accident? And what happens if your injury worsens or changes? Is it still possible to reopen an old workers’ compensation case to seek compensation for it? Let’s look into when you can reopen a workers’ comp claim and how to go about it.
Recovery Depends on Whether or Not You Signed a Clincher Agreement
A clincher agreement is a signed statement that releases your employer and their workers’ compensation insurer from any future liability regarding your claim. This means that if you’ve signed a clincher agreement, your workers’ compensation will not cover your injuries should they worsen or remain the same in the future.
A clincher agreement is essentially a final release statement, and it’s crucial that you do not sign one without seeking legal advice first. Once signed, you give up your right to reopen your workers’ comp case, so signing such a document should never be taken lightly.
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What is Required to Reopen a Workers’ Compensation Case?
South Carolina has a set of requirements that state that in order to reopen a prior workers’ comp claim:
- The current injury or illness you’re reopening your case over must be related to the original workplace incident you initially filed your claim over
- Your original claim must not have covered your change in condition
- Your shift in injury/illness must have occurred after your initial workers’ comp benefits were granted
- You must file to reopen your claim no more than 12 months after your last workers’ comp check
As long as your case meets the above criteria, you can reopen an old workers’ comp claim. However, while reopening your case may sound relatively simple, proving your condition has worsened can be incredibly complex. To give your claim the best chance at success, it’s highly advisable to have legal counsel by your side.
What You’ll Need to Prove Your Claim
Reopening your workers’ comp case can be an uphill battle, as many judges are reluctant to reopen previously finalized cases. Ergo, it’s essential to start your case off on the right foot by filling out the appropriate forms on time and demonstrating that you meet the necessary criteria to reopen your claim. This means gathering medical proof showing how your condition has worsened or failed to improve.
Documentation from your medical care provider shows incontrovertible proof that your injury requires additional care and necessitates additional workers’ comp benefits. The bulk of your evidence to prove your case will depend upon this documentation, so always ensure you have saved all of your medical bills, paperwork, and any statements regarding your illness/injury from your doctor.
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Hiring an Attorney Gives Your Workers’ Comp Claim the Best Chance of Success
Dealing with untrustworthy insurers only interested in maintaining their bottom line can be exhausting and difficult. Many times insurers will do everything in their power to prevent you from receiving adequate compensation to cover the actual costs of your injury. However, hiring a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney will give your claim the best shot of obtaining a successful resolution.
Additionally, a workers’ comp attorney will help you to:
- Collect any evidence supporting your claim
- Evaluate your case and determine the best legal strategy for your claim
- Help with any legal paperwork
- Hire medical experts to testify if necessary
- Negotiate with insurance agencies
- Find any inconsistencies in your original case and utilize them to your advantage
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Having to reopen a workers’ compensation case can be exceptionally frustrating, and it may feel overwhelming on top of having to cope with the stress of recovery and lost wages. However, seeking legal counsel can significantly alleviate the stress, confusion, and frustration of reopening an old case.
You shouldn’t have to figure out the legal system on your own. A reputable workers’ comp lawyer will fight to ensure your case receives the fair compensation you are owed so that you can spend less time worrying about the complexities of the law and more time focusing on recovering from your injuries.