Imagine you suffer a workplace injury, get worker’s comp, and once you’re done with your medical treatment, receive a settlement. Case closed, you move on.
Except, your health doesn’t always work like that. In some cases, injuries or conditions you thought you got rid of can return in another shape or form. Can you reopen your workers’ compensation case once it is settled?
Well, that depends on your settlement, and what’s included in it.
What Does the Law Say?
In Missouri, once you accept a final settlement for your worker’s comp case, it is considered final. The Division even warns about accepting a settlement from the insurance company on the assumption that they will continue to cover future medical expenses. They may refuse to do so, and you accepting the settlement can mean you waiver your right to seek future compensation from them when it comes to this injury.
However, a settlement doesn’t automatically mean your future medical expenses won’t be covered. Typically, a worker’s comp settlement also takes into account future medical treatment needed for your recovery, as a lot of times these settlements are offered when treatment is still ongoing.
As a result, your statement may contain a provision that any medical treatments still pertaining to your workplace injury will still be covered, so you can forward your bills and wait for reimbursements.
If your settlement does not have such a provision, you discuss this with your St. Louis worker’s comp lawyer to see if your case presents other possible options. If you are not legally represented it is highly recommended that you speak with an experienced attorney. You can be sure the insurance company will have experienced legal represensation working on their behalf.
When You May Reopen the Case
If you have proof the employer or insurance company made a mistake, or acted in bad faith the first time around with your worker’s comp claim, you may be able to take matters to the Division and have them weigh in.
Or, that evidence may be enough to convince the insurance company or employer to reopen your case and negotiate a new settlement, to avoid facing harsher legal actions.
In other cases, if your condition worsens over time you may be able to file a new worker’s comp claim, and argue your worsened condition is a new injury. You’ll likely need a medical professional to attest this is a fact.
What Can You Do?
Your best option right now is to call a St. Louis work injury attorney and request a case consultation, especially if you were not represented the first time around, and are unaware of what your settlement stipulates.
Based on the details of your case, a lawyer may be able to persuade the insurance company to agree to reopen your case and cover your present medical expenses. Or, your lawyer may be able to find some mistake in your case that could be enough to open your case again.
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