You suffered an injury at work. You took time off, and your employer’s insurance company paid for medical treatment. At some point in time your medical condition, whether you fully or only partly recovered from the injury, was declared by a doctor to be “permanent and stationary”, meaning that no more improvement to your health and physical condition were expected to result from the injury. A final adjudication of your claim was made and the claim was closed.
And then, months or possibly years later, the injury acts up again — you suffer pain and disability similar to what you had suffered immediately after the work injury. This pain and disability affects the quality of your life and your ability to work. So how closed is closed? It’s clear to you that the pain you are now suffering is related to and caused by, the work injury. What can you do about this?
Begin by Consulting a Skilled Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Under certain circumstances workers’ compensation claims can be re-opened months, or years, after they have been closed. The test is how much time has passed since the date of injury, and whether you have suffered “new and further disability” as a result of the original injury.
The workers’ compensation law firm of Kneisler & Schondel is expert at recognizing the circumstances under which claims can be re-opened and know what steps to take to advocate on your behalf to re-open your claim.
“New and Further Disability” Defined
“New and further disability” has been defined as disability resulting from a demonstrable change in an employee’s condition, including a gradual increase in disability. A change in physical condition necessitating further medical treatment can be considered a new and further disability. New and further disability refers to a recurrence of temporary disability, a new need for medical treatment, or the change of a temporary disability into a permanent disability.
Thus, “new and further disability” is defined broadly. If you were injured on the job, were treated and your condition stabilized, and then months or years later your condition worsens, this could be considered new and further disability related to the workplace injury. Kneisler & Schondel are experienced in evaluating such cases and successfully advocating for you.
Provisions in Workers’ Compensation Law Must be Liberally Construed in Favor of the Employee
Case law states that workers’ compensation laws must be liberally construed in favor of the employee unless otherwise compelled by the language of the statute, and such enactment should not be interpreted in a manner that will result in a loss of compensation. The time limit for re-opening claims for new and further disability is five years from the original date of injury.
Workers’ compensation law is designed to help injured workers obtain fair compensation. But the law is complex. Having skilled attorneys on your side, such as at Kneisler & Schondel, can be critical in determining whether you are permitted to re-open a claim if you suffer new and further disability.
Contact Your Local Workers Compensation Attorney
If you suffered a workplace injury in the past and that claim was closed, and you are now experiencing health issues that you believe might be related to the original injury, contact us today at 707-542-5132 for a legal evaluation of whether you can re-open your claim.