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Is It Possible to Reopen a Settled Workers' Comp Claim?

California's workers' compensation system aims to provide essential benefits to employees affected by work-related injuries or illnesses. These benefits encompass medical treatment, temporary and permanent disability payments, and vocational rehabilitation services. Settlements play a crucial role in resolving these claims.

Despite settlements offering closure, circumstances may evolve, prompting the need for a claim's reopening. A prevalent scenario involves the deterioration of the injured worker's condition post-settlement, necessitating additional medical care or altering their ability to return to work. Additionally, the emergence of new evidence not previously considered during settlement negotiations could warrant a claim's reopening.

The Process of Reopening a Settled Claim

Reopening a settled claim is feasible but entails a nuanced process. It typically entails filing a petition with the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) and presenting compelling evidence in support. This evidence often comprises updated medical records, expert opinions, and testimony from the injured worker.

Criteria for Reopening

The WCAB possesses the authority to reopen settled claims under specific circumstances. Examples include settlements based on factual errors, instances of fraud or misconduct, or significant changes in the injured worker's condition post-settlement. However, meeting these criteria is essential for a successful claim reopening.

Time Limits & Exceptions

Understanding the time constraints for filing a petition to reopen a settled claim is critical. Generally, such petitions must be filed within five years from the date of injury or within one year from the last benefits payment, whichever is later. Nonetheless, exceptions to these time limits exist, underscoring the importance of seeking legal counsel promptly.

Seeking Legal Guidance

Reopening a settled workers' comp claim is a multifaceted endeavor, necessitating legal expertise. Consulting with a seasoned workers' comp attorney is indispensable for comprehending one's rights and navigating the complexities of the process effectively.

At Smolich and Smolich, our advocates are ready to aid clients who qualify for reopening a settled workers' comp claim. We recognize that the nature of your work-related injuries may have significantly evolved, surpassing the original scope of workers' comp coverage. Our objective is to offer tailored legal support to empower these clients in pursuing a more favorable resolution.

For more information about our legal services, contact us today.