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Workers’ Compensation Opening an Old Work Injury Case

Workers’ compensation is designed to compensate employees who are injured while doing their job. Even occupations that are thought to be less physically demanding can result in debilitating injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome and back injuries.

Many workers, on the other hand, have pre-existing conditions or previous old injuries. Although this is not a complete bar to getting workers’ compensation payments, it might make calculating the number of benefits owed to the worker more difficult. Contact the Des Moines workers’ compensation attorneys at Mueller, Schmidt, Mulholland & Cooling today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim. Our attorneys can help you file a claim, assist with a denied claim, and possibly reopen a claim or file for an old injury.

Old Work Injury Cases and Pre-existing Conditions

If you have previously been injured and your injury worsens while on the job, you should consult an attorney about filing a workers’ compensation claim. You’ll need to show that an event or accident at work aggravated your pre-existing injury, or your claim will be dismissed right away.

Your employer’s insurance company will investigate your claim, particularly if you have a past injury, to see if your actions at work caused the condition to worsen or if it was caused off the clock.

Naturally, having a pre-existing condition makes it more difficult to ascertain whether the employee’s symptoms that prevent him or her from working are caused by the work-related injury or are caused by the pre-existing injury. When the pre-existing condition and the work-related injury are comparable or impact the same body part, this becomes much more challenging.

Can You Open an Old Work Injury Case?

The time frame between the first injury, the settlement, and the necessity to reopen the case is critical. Reopening a case takes additional time from the court, warranted or not. Second, if you are attempting to reopen a case that has been denied, you may be able to do so provided you can provide persuasive reasons.

Some states will enable you to reopen your case only for limited reasons if a judge concluded after a hearing that you were not entitled to workers’ compensation payments. Typically, you’ll have to establish that you have new and convincing evidence that wasn’t accessible at your earlier hearing.

expenditures if you signed a full and final release of all claims. In most states, including Iowa, agreeing to a settlement that includes a full and final release means you’re giving up your ability to pursue future claims related to your injuries.

How to Open an Old Work Injury Case?

Requesting that your workers’ compensation case be reopened differs by state. You must typically file a form or letter with the state workers’ compensation department and provide a copy to your employer or its insurance carrier. Documents supporting your claim (such as medical records demonstrating your worsening condition) should be attached to your request. A hearing to determine your eligibility for benefits may also be scheduled.

To be successful when bringing a review-opening petition in Iowa, the claim must be filed within three years of the last payment of workers’ compensation indemnity benefits such as TTD, TPD, or PPD. Payment of PPD (permanent partial disability) benefits is the most prevalent example.

Modifying an Existing Claim

Your medical condition has usually stabilized by the time you receive a workers’ compensation payout or a court award for a work-related accident or illness. That means you should have a solid notion of the amount of any ongoing discomfort or limitations caused by your accident, as well as whether or not you require additional medical treatment.

But what if your condition worsens unexpectedly, or you find new information that proves you’re more impaired than your doctors previously thought? Depending on the regulations and deadlines in your state, as well as how you settled your workers’ compensation claim, you may be able to earn greater benefits by reviewing your case or requesting a change.

If you have medical evidence that your health has worsened or that you are more incapacitated than you were at the time of the award, you can usually reopen your case. In Iowa, you must file a petition to reopen your workers’ compensation claim within three years after the date your last indemnity benefit was paid. This petition should provide a justification for why the case should be reopened due to new and additional disability.

Filing a New Claim for an Old Injury

Even if you are unable to reopen your workers’ compensation case if your existing injury was worsened by a work activity, whether at the same job or for a different employer, you may be eligible to file a new claim. For example, suppose you settled a workers’ compensation claim for a shoulder injury caused by a workplace accident, but the pain returned or worsened when you moved a big box at work years later. The aggravation or worsening of your medical condition would be regarded as a new injury in this case.

Even if a review-reopening claim is not an option in your case, further compensation may be available. An injury can be regarded as a new injury, requiring the filing of a new workers’ compensation claim, if you are denied when trying to re-open a previous claim. This is usually the case if the injury is aggravated in the workplace of a new employer or if the injury is completely unrelated to the previous claim filed.

Iowa Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at MSMC Law Firm

Workers’ compensation legislation is complicated and determining whether your injury qualifies for a review-reopening claim, a new claim, or no claim at all can be challenging. Our experienced Des Moines workers’ compensation and personal injury attorneys have helped injured Iowa workers like you completely understand their legal options and secure fair compensation for their claims. To contact our lawyers and for a free initial consultation, please call our law offices at (515) 444-4000 or fill out the contact form online.