If you settled your claim by Stipulations and your injury gets worse, you have the right to reopen the claim for new and further disability for 5 years from the date of your injury.
If you settled your claim by Compromise and Release, there must be a new injury whether specific or by cumulative trauma (injury that occurs over time) that causes the worsening of your condition. In such cases a new claim for injury should be filed.
In either case, settlement of the new claim or the reopening of the old claim will take into consideration the prior settlement and will deduct that amount from any future settlement. This is called apportionment.
You should speak with your doctor and your attorney to determine whether or not a reopening or a new claim filing is appropriate.
If your claim settled by stipulations, you have retained the right to medical treatment paid for by the insurance carrier for that injury for the rest of your life. The insurance carrier will generally have no objection to your receiving continued conservative care such as periodic visits to your doctor, medications, occasional need for physical therapy or chiropractic care, etc. Any significant treatment such as a need for extensive testing or surgery will likely be denied unless prior addressed in your settlement. If you require such substantial care, you may need to consider reopening the claim if it is within the statutory time frame to do so.
If your claim settled by compromise and release, you have essentially sold off your right to future medical care paid for by the workers’ compensation carrier. In such cases, the insurance carrier will not pay for any additional medical treatment past the date the court approved your settlement. If you need continued medical care for your injuries, you will need to proceed with that treatment under a private health insurance policy or some other form of payment.
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