HOW TO REOPEN A WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIM IN NJ: WORK INJURY LAWYER EXPLAINS
If your workers’ compensation claim has been closed, there may be ways in New Jersey to reopen it to obtain compensation for worsening or new injuries related to your initial accident. This scenario is not too uncommon and our workers’ compensation lawyer in New Jersey can help. For instance, you may have been injured in a workplace accident and received workers’ compensation benefits. Initially it was at a fair rate and eventually your benefits period ended. However, as time has passed your injuries have not improved. Maybe they have actually worsened or there is a new diagnosis that is related to your work accident. Your claim no longer seems to fairly compensate you for your workplace injuries, but your claim is marked as “closed.” You are not sure what to do next but you know you need to do something.
Luckily, that answer can be as easy as calling a work injury attorney like one of ours at The Law Office of Craig A. Altman. With over 30 years of experience representing injured workers in New Jersey, our workers’ compensation lawyers know how to properly review and handle applications to reopen a workers’ comp claim. Whether you believe your claim was inadequate or additional medical treatment is necessary, we can ensure that your rights to compensation are protected under NJ law.
Why Would You Want to Reopen a WC Claim in NJ?
There are many reasons why you may want to reopen a workers’ compensation claim in New Jersey. Some of the most common reasons that our workers’ comp attorney can help you reopen your case include the following:
- Worsening heath due to a work-related injury or a work-related illness or disease
- Decreased wage earning capacity due to injury and continued or worsening disability
- Discovering new information about a work-related injury or condition
- Need for additional surgery related to the workplace injury, including a revisionary surgery or a second surgery to remove painful hardware
- Legal, factual, or even fraudulent errors that resulted in a claim being improperly denied or lowered
- Premature retirement or reduction in hours you can work (full-time to part-time), and
- Other reasonable causes to reopen a claim that our workers’ compensation attorneys in New Jersey can assist you with.
When Can You Reopen a WC Claim in NJ?
After you have been in a workplace accident, you are entitled to compensation for medical treatment, lost wages, and a settlement award once your treatment is finished. When the administrative law judge (ALJ) approves your settlement award, your case is marked closed.
There are two types of dispositions that the judge can make when closing a settlement. They are known as section 20 or section 22 settlements.
A section 20 settlement is when the settlement is a “full and final payment” of the claim. This is paid in a lump sum instead of regular payments over a period of time. This type of settlement cannot be reopened by either the insurance carrier or the injured worker unless 1) there was fraud involved in the case, or 2) if there were facts submitted by mistakes by one of the parties.
Whereas a section 22 settlement is when benefits are based on apportioning a percentage of disability of the injured body part or system. A claimant may be entitled to reopen this type of settlement if the condition of that body part or system worsens over time. Additionally, a section 22 settlement may be reopened if new facts or information are discovered related to the disability that was not previously known. This could even be a new condition or diagnosis related to a workplace accident.
How to Reopen a Workers’ Comp Claim
Within two years from your final benefits payment, you must file a petition to reopen your WC claim. This must be supported with medical evidence that your injury or disability caused by the workplace accident has worsened, or that there is a new condition related to the original workplace injury. You may also be entitled to reopen your WC claim if there has been a material change in the level of your disability.
An ALJ will review the petition and make a decision on whether there is compelling evidence to support your claim. This is largely done through a review of the common law (judge-made law) and can be discretionary. It is essential that an individual trying to reopen their claim is represented by an experienced workers’ comp attorney in New Jersey.
We Have Over 30 Years of Protecting Workers in NJ
Here at The Law Office of Craig A. Altman, we have over 30 years of representing injured workers throughout New Jersey.
If you are struggling to get workers’ compensation, our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Craig A. Altman can help. Contact us today to speak to an attorney about your case.