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Can I Reopen a Closed Workers’ Comp Claim?

male office worker wincing in painAfter finalizing a workers’ comp claim and going back to your job, you may believe that your claim is closed permanently. However, what happens if your prior work-related injury or medical condition gets worse and you need further medical treatment or surgery? Can you reopen your workers’ compensation case for the incident that caused the original injury or condition?

If you have a previously treated work injury or illness that has gotten worse after closing your claim, our qualified workers’ comp lawyers in Flint are ready to help.

Contact Jay Trucks & Associates to learn more. We are prepared to help determine whether you may be eligible to reopen your workers’ comp claim for additional medical benefits or lost wages.

Free Initial Case Review. (800) 762-8623

Why Reopen a Closed Workers’ Comp Claim?

Michigan state law entitles injured workers to receive lifetime workers’ compensation benefits for that injury. Even if a workers’ comp claim has already been closed, an injured worker may still be able to reopen the original injury claim for further treatment—and lost wages if he or she is unable to work, such as if:

  • The treating physician found new evidence of further injury from the original incident
  • A doctor recommends a new medical treatment or additional medical care that may benefit your worsened condition
  • The original workplace injury or condition has regressed to the point that you cannot keep working

How to Reopen a Michigan Workers’ Comp Claim

Before you attempt to reopen your Michigan workers’ comp claim, there are some requirements that must be met:

Proper Notice and Claim of Original Injury

The original injury must have been reported to your employer within 90 days of the occurrence. Sooner is better, as any long gap—even days—gives room for an employer or insurance carrier to argue an injury could have happened elsewhere. Your best bet is to report the injury immediately and to complete a formal accident report, remembering to keep a copy of the document for your records. The claim for benefits must also have been filed within two years of the date of the initial injury or illness.

Medical Evidence Must Support Reopening Your Claim

In addition to reporting the claim, there must also be medical evidence that links your current injury or illness to your prior work injury. An attorney could help you to obtain this evidence, which may include:

  • Medical records from a follow-up appointment describing your worsened condition
  • Diagnostic tests—including X-rays, MRIs, CT-scans
  • A doctor’s report diagnosing the aggravation of your original injury, along with recommended treatment
  • Prior evidence from your original claim

Is There a Deadline for Reopening a Michigan Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Unlike many other states, Michigan has no statute of limitations for reopening a closed workers’ comp claim. If you meet eligibility requirements, there are no deadlines that prevent you from reopening a workers’ compensation claim from a previous injury.

Do Workers’ Comp Settlements Impact My Ability to Reopen a Workers’ Comp Claim?

Whether a settlement impacts your ability to reopen a claim depends on the type of workers’ comp settlement you received. In Michigan, you may have settled your workers’ comp claim in one of two ways:

Settlement via Redemption

This type of settlement occurs when an injured employee opts to accept a lump sum cash payment, rather than continue receiving weekly benefits. For some workers, who have reached their maximum medical improvement (MMI), receiving a full and final settlement may make sense. However, if you settled your workers’ comp claim in this way, you will not be able to reopen your workers’ comp claim. This type of settlement is a one-and-done kind of deal.

That said, if you only just settled your workers’ comp claim and changed your mind about the lump sum settlement, you have 15 days after the workers’ compensation judge approves your redemption to cancel the settlement agreement. You can only cancel your settlement agreement at this point with good cause. For example, if your condition suddenly worsens and additional diagnostic tests reveal an additional injury that was missed.

Structured Settlement vs Voluntary Payment

If the insurance company makes a voluntary payment—which is the payment of an injured worker’s benefits up through a determined date—the worker may still reopen his or her claim later. In this instance, the injured employee did not agree to give up any additional benefits for future medical care to accept a lump sum payment.

Need to Reopen Your Workers’ Comp Claim? Call Our Firm for Legal Help Today

If you need to reopen a workers’ compensation claim, the experienced lawyers at Jay Trucks & Associates are available to assist you. We offer a free initial consultation to review the circumstances of your request. There is no obligation to move forward after this meeting.

If we represent you, there is nothing to pay upfront. We do not get paid our fees unless we are successful in recovering additional workers’ comp benefits for your aggravated injury or illness.

Our offices are available anytime, day or night, to take your call.

Millions recovered for our clients. (800) 762-8623