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Can I Reopen an Old San Francisco Workers Compensation Claim?

So you got a workers’ compensation settlement for a work-related injury in San Francisco? This likely means that your medical situation has been assessed by a professional. What’s more, the treatment/financial compensation has been established.

Now, here’s the thing. What if your medical condition somehow gets worse or more evidence comes to light, showing you’re more affected than the doctors initially established? Depending on the law and deadline in your state, chances are, you might be able to get the initial decision modified so that you can get full and fair compensation.

If you find yourself in this situation, this article offers all you need to know about the requirements for reopening your claim. This includes how to file a petition with the help of San Francisco injury lawyers, and how settlements may affect your rights to reopen a workers compensation claim in San Francisco, California.

Requirements to Reopen a Workers’ Compensation Claim in California

For starters, there are no closed-for-good cases when it comes to workers’ compensation benefits even after a final decision and an appeal. Well, there’s a slight condition attached. According to California state law, you can reopen a claim as long as you file the petition within five years of the injury date. Still, there may be slight exceptions to that rule. Generally, the requirements to reopen a claim in California include:

  • Proof that you need a new treatment.
  • Evidence that your injury or medical condition has deteriorated.

Some US states also allow claim reopening if there’s evidence of legal or factual mistake or the insurance company acted unfairly or fraudulently. Just so you know, abuse of the system is not allowed, so you can’t just keep initiating a revisit of your claim. What’s more, you can’t reopen your previous claim just because you are not happy with the decision.

Furthermore, the change in your medical condition should be one the doctors could not have easily predicted. For example, let’s say a staff member of a company suffered an injury to the back and left leg. This situation caused the individual to limp, putting more pressure on the right leg. Now, he/she has developed an impairment on the right knee as well, making it difficult to walk. This scenario is a good example to reopen a claim as further disability can be established.

How Settlements May Affect Your Right to Reopen a Workers’ Comp Claim?

Let’s face it; once a judge approves your settlement, it’s not a walk in the park to get your claim reopened. That’s why you need a qualified San Francisco injury attorney. This is because sometimes, the type of settlement you enter into may make it more difficult to reopen your claim. Meaning there are chances settlements may affect your right to reopen a worker’s compensation claim.

Examples include:

  • Compromise and release:

If you agreed to a full and final settlement, which is also referred to as a “buy-out,” it can make it almost impossible to reopen your claim. Usually, this scenario or agreement means you received a lump sum of money to release or give up your claims against the company you work for. However, there’s hope.

While the compromise and release arrangement is perfectly legal under California state law, a good injury attorney might be able to seek reimbursement for medical treatments. This may be possible if you’re in a state where it is legally impossible to give away your rights to medical treatment even after you may have entered into a buy-out arrangement.

  • Structured settlement:

Some injured workers sign a structured settlement agreement rather than receive a lump sum. Unlike compromise and release, you might be able to reopen your claim. Still, it’s not a walk in the park.

How to File a Petition to Reopen in San Francisco, California

Reopening a workers Compensation claim involves filing a petition. The petition to reopen your claim must contain a clear and concise explanation of the reason the claim should be reopened.

As mentioned earlier, medical grounds are one of the significant reasons for claims reopening. Therefore, you should have strong medical evidence. This isn’t something you want to put together on your own. You’ll do well to consult experienced injury lawyers.

Let Us Assist You With Your Claim

The requirements for reopening a workers’ compensation can be complex to establish. Still, if your medical condition has undoubtedly deteriorated after a court ruling or after going into an agreement, don’t hesitate to engage the services of our San Francisco injury lawyers. An attorney in this field knows how to build these case types to achieve the best outcomes in your favor.

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