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Can I Reopen a Settled Workers' Comp Claim?

Unfortunately, workplace injuries are anything but simple. Sometimes an injured worker needs medical treatment for a specific period of time before they improve, but it may not work this way in other cases.

Sometimes employees afflicted by a workplace-related illness or injury can worsen after their workers’ comp claim is settled. Many people believe their window to gain additional financial assistance for medical treatment closes once their claim is settled, but this isn’t always the case.

If your workers’ compensation claim in California was settled through a Stipulated Finding and Award, you may be able to reopen your claim if your illness or injury is aggravated by a new illness or injury. Importantly, though, claims can only be reopened up to five years after the date of the injury, so any aggravation experienced after this period may not be covered by workers’ comp.

Keep in mind that the period to reopen a claim is separate from the potentially lifelong medical care someone can receive as a part of a Stipulated Finding and Award settlement. If someone is guaranteed lifetime medical care for a work-related illness, they can continue to receive coverage for this treatment well beyond the period during which they can reopen their claim.

When a Workers’ Comp Claim Can’t Be Reopened

Workers’ compensation claims can’t be reopened if a worker received an Award and Compromise by Release settlement. This means the employees opted to receive a cash settlement for their injury, which may or may not meet the actual cost of their current or future medical care.

If an employee who took a Compromise by Release settlement experiences a worsening of their condition after a workplace accident, they are unable to reopen their workers’ compensation claims to access additional medical care.

Do You Need Help with Your Workers’ Comp Claim?

Whether you should take a Stipulated Finding or Compromise by Release settlement depends on unique factors relevant to your workplace injury. It may not be possible to tell for certain if you will need medical care in the future, but our attorneys at Smolich and Smolich can provide the legal counsel you need to make the decision that’s right for you.

Learn more about what we can do for our clients by contacting us online to schedule a consultation!