Can You Reopen a Closed Workers’ Compensation Case in Pennsylvania?
Ryan Zavodnick | November 14, 2022 | Workers' Compensation
Even though your workers’ compensation case in Pennsylvania has been closed, you might have a reason to reopen the matter. Pennsylvania workers’ compensation laws allow injured workers to reopen a workers’ comp case in specific circumstances. First, however, you might want to consult a Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer to ensure you are choosing the best option available by reopening your case.
When Can You Reopen a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Case?
A workers’ comp case might close when you are no longer eligible to receive workers’ comp benefits, you are denied benefits, or you reach maximum medical improvement and return to work. However, there are situations in which a workers’ comp claim might be unjustly closed. Additionally, changes in circumstances could warrant reopening a case.
You must prove that your condition has worsened to reopen a workers’ comp case. For example, you sustained a back injury at work which required physical therapy to heal. After completing physical therapy, your doctor released you to return to work.
However, a couple of years later, you experience severe back pain. You have not injured your back or been in an accident, so you make an appointment with your physician.
When you see your doctor, they determine that the pain is caused by the deterioration of the spinal column. Your doctor recommends that you have back surgery to try to correct the problem.
Furthermore, your doctor states that the condition is directly caused by the work-related back injury you sustained two years prior. In other words, if you had not injured your back at work, you would not need back surgery now.
Because your current condition is a direct result of the original work injury, you should be able to reopen your workers’ compensation case. If so, you can receive additional workers’ compensation benefits.
However, if you agreed to a lump sum payment to fully close your workers’ compensation case, you might not be able to reopen the case. A lump sum settlement agreement releases all parties from further liability for the work injury. In this case, reopening your workers’ comp claim might not be an option.
How Do You Reopen a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Typically, the injured worker files a petition in order to reopen their Pennsylvania workers’ comp claim. The petition asks that your case be reopened because your condition worsened, you need additional medical care, or you cannot work because of the original injury.
You must prove that your condition has worsened and justifies additional workers’ compensation benefits. Furthermore, you must prove that the current condition directly results from the original injury.
Even if your doctor states your current condition was caused by a work-related injury that worsened, it does not mean your workers’ comp case is automatically reopened. The workers’ compensation insurance company or your employer might object to the petition to reopen the case. You might need additional medical evidence from specialists and medical experts.
How Long Do I Have To Petition To Reopen My Workers’ Compensation Case in Pennsylvania?
Generally, you can petition to reinstate workers’ comp benefits up to 500 weeks after receiving the laws workers’ comp benefits. Failing to file before the deadline could result in the loss of benefits. Therefore, do not delay seeking medical care and talking to a Philadelphia workers’ comp attorney if you suspect a work injury has worsened.
What Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits Could You Receive When You Reopen a Workers’ Comp Case?
The workers’ comp benefits you receive depend on the situation. The workers’ comp insurance company should pay the medical bills if you require additional medical treatment.
Likewise, if you cannot work because of the worsened condition, you should be able to receive temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. If the doctor recommends you return to light duty work, you can receive temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits if you cannot work full-time.
Whether you can receive permanent disability benefits for a work-related injury depends on the situation. If the worsened condition results in total disability, you might be entitled to lost wage benefits for the rest of your life. If your doctor assigns an impairment rating for partial disability, you could receive permanent partial disability benefits for up to 500 weeks.
Reopening a workers’ compensation case in Pennsylvania can be challenging. You must meet several qualifications, and you might need to battle with the workers’ comp insurance company for benefits. The first step is to talk with a lawyer to determine your options and the best way to get you the help and benefits you need.
Contact Our Workers’ Compensation Law Firm in Philadelphia Today To Get Help With Your Case
To learn more and get the help you deserve, call Zavodnick & Lasky Personal Injury Lawyers at (215) 875-7030 or contact us online.
You can also visit our law firm at 123 S Broad St #1220, Philadelphia, PA 19109.