Your workers’ compensation case has been closed, and your benefits have been decided. But what happens if your condition worsens, or you find out your disability is more serious than your doctor previously believed? Can a workers’ compensation claim be reopened?
In many cases, yes, although certain criteria must be met. Each state has its own system of laws regulating the reopening of workers’ compensation claims. We’ll go over the basics of how to reopen a workers’ compensation claim here in Kentucky, but we advise that you partner with an attorney before proceeding on your own. Workers’ compensation law is highly complicated. Reopening a workers’ compensation claim requires even more legal expertise than filing a typical claim.
After reading the information below, please reach out to Golden Law Office in Lexington, KY with questions. Our experienced attorneys can review your case at no cost or obligation to you, and skillfully represent you if you choose to partner with our law firm.
When Can a Workers’ Compensation Claim Be Reopened in Kentucky?
Kentucky law allows you to reopen a workers’ compensation claim, but only under certain conditions. One of the most common reasons it may be possible to do so is if you’re experiencing a deteriorating or worsening medical condition. Under these circumstances, it’s possible to reopen a claim if your case meets the mandatory criteria.
It has happened many times—an injured employee believes they are on the path to recovery when an unexpected setback suddenly arises. This happens more often than many realize, which is why Kentucky law recognizes it may be a reason to reopen a claim. If your injuries worsen or a new health issue develops, the medical expenses required to treat your new condition will be much higher than before. You will be prevented from returning to work for a significantly longer amount of time. There needs to be an update to the benefits you were originally awarded through your workers’ compensation claim.
When you submit your Motion To Reopen form with the Department of Workers’ Claims of the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, you will be asked the reason for reopening the claim. Valid grounds on which a workers’ compensation claim may be reopened in Kentucky include:
- There was a change in your state of disability, supported by objective medical evidence.
- Fraud or a mistake affected the outcome of your case.
- There is newly-discovered evidence related to your case.
- You are moving to reduce a permanent total disability (PTD) award when you are returning to work.
How Long Do I Have To Reopen a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Kentucky has a four-year limitation period for reopening claims. This means that no claim may be reopened more than four years following the original decision to award or deny benefits. Additionally, you cannot file a motion to reopen a workers’ compensation claim within one year of a motion to reopen the same claim by the same party. In other words, you can’t file to reopen a claim that you already reopened several months earlier.
What Is the Benefit of Reopening a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Injured victims of work accidents need workers’ compensation benefits to help them afford the costs of missing work and receiving quality medical care. The purpose of reopening a claim is usually to increase the benefits to a level that matches your current state of health.
By reopening a workers’ comp claim, most people are filing to increase their monetary benefits (like TTD benefits). This allows the injured party to receive more money to keep them financially stable during the time they are not able to return to work. In some cases, the patient may need to file a motion to have their permanent impairment rating altered.
A permanent impairment rating is assigned by a doctor to describe the level of disability the injured victim sustained. Your Kentucky workers’ compensation benefits will depend largely on this rating. If your state worsens or a new condition develops, this rating may need to be adjusted to accurately reflect the extent of your impairment. Things like loss of range of motion, loss of strength, and need for an assistive device are factored in your impairment rating.
How To Reopen a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Reopening a Kentucky workers’ compensation claim will require you to fill out a Motion To Reopen with the Kentucky Department of Workers’ Claims. You will also need to submit supporting evidence of your reason for filing a motion to reopen your claim. You can expect to present a full and recent medical report that supports your motion, a medical release form, an employee affidavit, a copy of the original award, settlement, agreement, or resolution, and other documents.
Some individuals may attempt to do this on their own, but it’s best to let a workers’ compensation attorney handle these legal matters for you. It can be a challenge to successfully reopen a closed workers’ compensation case without the right legal representation. Contact our Lexington, KY office to learn if we can help.