Malamut & Associates


Can You Reopen a Workers’ Compensation Claim if Your Injury Resurfaces or Worsens?

April 21, 2017 |

Pursuing a workers’ compensation claim should not be as hard as it often is. The benefit has been available for decades and the law behind it was specifically written to represent a “grand contract” between employers and employees: employees would be protected and provided with benefits in the case of injury and in exchange, employers would be protected against personal injury lawsuits. Unfortunately, over the years the good intentions have been replaced, and employees often have to fight tooth and nail to get reimbursed for medical expenses and much-needed time away from work. If you have recently gone through this process and have resolved a claim, but find yourself with additional complications from the original injury, you may wonder whether it is possible – or even worth it – to bring the subject up again. Doing so can be complicated, so it is advised that you work with an experienced attorney who can help you understand your rights to reopen a workers’ compensation claim if your injury resurfaces or worsens. The attorneys at Malamut & Associates can give you the information you need.


The ability to reopen a workers’ compensation claim is largely dependent upon how your case was initially resolved. If you negotiated a settlement, the terms may provide you with the right to future medical care if it is needed – but it may do just the opposite and include what is known as a “full and final” release. If your settlement is the latter, then you have legally abandoned your right to bring any more claims against your employer and their insurance company, and you are unlikely to be able to file for additional reimbursement for the same injury unless you can show that the insurance company committed some type of fraud against you.


It is for this reason that an injured worker should be cautious when negotiating a settlement. Signing a full and final release assumes the risk that your injury will not reappear or get worse in the future. If your settlement does not include this terminology then you can file a petition and submit evidence from your physician about your medical condition, why it has worsened and that your current condition is linked to your initial work injury.


Filing a petition to reopen a case is usually limited to a specific period of time. In the state of New Jersey, this type of request must be submitted within two years of receiving your final benefit payment.  Even within the time limits, the process can be difficult. However, it is important to remember that closing a claim on one injury – even with a full and final release – does not preclude you from being able to submit a claim for a separate injury, though the insurance company is still likely to put up a fight.


If you have settled a workers’ compensation claim and find yourself in need of further medical attention, you need knowledgeable legal counsel who can advise you of your rights. Call the attorneys at Malamut & Associates today to learn more about what you are eligible to do.