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Can a Workers' Comp Case Be Reopened?

The Law Office of Robert E. Wood May 13, 2024

Yes, a workers' compensation case can be reopened in California under certain conditions. According to state law and regulations, you have the right to petition for reopening your workers' compensation claim. However, this must be done within a specific time frame, which is generally within five years after the date of the original injury. 

The reasons for reopening a workers' comp case typically revolve around a change in the claimant's condition. A claim may be reopened if there is medical evidence showing that the injured worker's condition has worsened, or if they are more disabled than was initially determined. This includes any new medical issues that can be directly attributed to the original injury covered under the initial workers' compensation claim. 

In California, you can ask to reopen your workers' comp case within five years after your injury if there's a "new and further disability." This basically means if you need more medical treatment, have to stop working again because of your injury, or your permanent injury gets worse, you can file to adjust your benefits (based on Cal. Labor Code § 5410 [2024] and the Sarabi v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. case in 2007). 

Our experienced workers’ comp lawyer at The Law Office of Robert E. Wood is here to help you seek the full compensation you deserve after any job-related injury. Reach out to our firm in Oakland, California, to set up a free consultation where we’ll discuss your options for reopening your case. We serve clients throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.  

How Does the Process Work?

To reopen a workers' compensation claim, the petitioner must file a Petition to Reopen. It's important to note that all documents filed with the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) must include a document cover sheet and a document separator sheet. This procedural step is crucial for ensuring that your petition is processed correctly. 

It's also noteworthy to mention that reopening a workers' compensation case can be challenging. The process requires navigating through specific legal and procedural requirements. Therefore, we highly recommend seeking legal assistance from professionals specializing in workers' compensation cases to guide you through the process and ensure representation of your rights. 

How a Workers' Comp Lawyer Can Help

Considering how tricky it can be to reopen a workers' comp case and what's at risk, having a specialized lawyer is super important. They make things easier for you and boost your chances of a good result. They can evaluate your case, advise on the likelihood of success in reopening the claim, and guide you through the necessary steps.  

They'll help with gathering and clearly presenting medical evidence to show your condition has worsened or new problems have appeared because of the original injury. Plus, your lawyer will be your voice in all hearings and dealings with the appeals board. This is key to making sure your rights are protected and you get to have your say.  

Experienced lawyers will also be invaluable when it comes time to negotiate. They'll know how to get a settlement that truly shows how much your injuries affect you and what you'll need for the future. Without their help, dealing with the workers' comp system can be tough and might not turn out well. 

FAQs About Reopening California Workers' Comp Cases

Workers' compensation claims, particularly when it comes to reopening cases, are inherently complicated. Incorporating the specific details of each individual case further amplifies this complexity, inevitably leading to many questions and uncertainties for the people making claims. Here are a few common ones we hear at The Law Office of Robert E. Wood.  

Can reopening my case result in a reduction of benefits? 

Yes, it's possible that reopening your workers' comp case could lead to a reevaluation of your benefits, and in some cases, this might mean a reduction.  

This could happen if new medical evaluations suggest that your condition has improved since the last assessment. That's why it's critical to have substantial new evidence of worsening or additional injuries related to the original claim before proceeding. 

What kind of evidence is needed to reopen a workers' comp case?

To successfully reopen a workers' comp case, you'll need new medical evidence that clearly demonstrates a change in your condition related to the original workplace injury.  

This includes medical reports, doctor's notes indicating the progression of your condition, any new diagnoses linked to the initial injury, or evidence of new disabilities. Detailed documentation is crucial to support the claim of 'new and further disability.'

How long does it take to reopen a workers' comp case?

The duration to reopen a workers' comp case can vary significantly, depending on the complexity of the case, the backlog of the WCAB, and how promptly you can gather and submit all required evidence.  

Generally speaking, the process can take several months to over a year. Having legal counsel can help expedite this process by ensuring that all paperwork is correctly filed and by effectively advocating on your behalf. 

Get the Support You Need

While it is indeed possible to reopen a workers' compensation case in California, doing so requires adherence to strict legal guidelines, including the pivotal five-year limitation from the date of the original injury. Consulting with a qualified attorney will be essential to effectively managing the reopening of your case. Contact our Bay Area law firm, The Law Office of Robert E. Wood, today for the legal support you deserve.