An experienced workman’s comp attorney can very often help injured workers reopen claims after settlements. This possibility is especially beneficial for workers whose injury recurs or becomes worse and it is different from personal injury cases.
When can you reopen a workman’s compensation claim?
Certain circumstances and factors determine whether a worker is entitled to having a settled claim reopened. The first important question is how the claim was settled – was it through “Compromise and Release” or “Stipulation and Award”?
Compromise and Release is such a type of settlement that is final and resolves the worker’s case completely: in the past, present and future. Unless the settlement was reached by means of fraud, Compromise and Release makes it impossible for the injured worker to reopen the case.
Stipulation and Award, together with trial, permit the worker to reopen the claim in the future if the need arises. The Labor Code sanctions reopened claims when some specific circumstances take place. Typically, there are four conditions that allow reopening a worker’s compensation claim:
- when the injury has become worse or come back
- when new evidence has been discovered proving the settlement isn’t equitable and reopening the case would rectify an error of fact
- when a fault in the law made the award unjust
- when there was a clerical error
Injured workers with a settled claim who are thinking of reopening their cases should bear in mind that there is a time frame within which they can do this. This is called Statute of Limitations (SOL) and in workers’ compensation cases it is typically 5 years from the day of the injury.
Statute of Limitations in workers’ comp claims in Orange County
There are cases in which the old claim doesn’t have to be reopened, but the case can be filed. In the case of disability that has increased, the worker may have a cumulative claim, which is handled like a new claim. When this is so, the statute of limitations starts counting again from the “new” injury. Determining when SOL starts counting or recounting is quite complicated and can be handled only by an experienced workman’s comp attorney.
Because of the possibility to reopen the case in the future, workers are advised to think carefully before settling their claims through compromise and release. An experienced attorney can give you the best guidance on what you need to consider before accepting a settlement agreement, so that your interests and rights are best protected.
Workman’s comp attorney Orange County
If you or your close one are considering reopening your worker’s comp claim that has been settled, make sure you give Workers’ Compensation Attorney Group a call. Our attorneys have a vast knowledge and a huge experience in handling worker’s compensation cases. We are always ready to consult with you regarding your case free of charge and pressure to hire us. Remember that you only pay for our services when you recover your award, so feel free to call us right away!