All workers’ compensation cases are unique. In the event that your disability claim was denied, or you discover your condition is worsening, you may be curious as to what your options are. Regardless of which category you fall under, you have the right to reopen your case.
While reopening a case for worsening conditions can be complicated, we’re here to help you every step of the way. In order to reopen your workers’ comp case, you’ll need compelling evidence to receive temporary or permanent disability benefits. Strong legal representation can improve the cases of you receiving your benefits. The attorneys at Belsky & Horowitz are prepared to fight for you.
Why Workers’ Compensation Benefits Get Denied
Before you can focus on reopening your denied claim, it’s important to understand why workers’ compensation benefits get denied.
Remember that to qualify for any disability benefits, your injuries need to meet the requirements established by the Workers’ Compensation Commission of Maryland:
- Your job environment or work duties caused your injury.
- Your injury happened over the course of your employment.
- An accident at work caused your injury.
If you received a claim denial outright, there may not have been sufficient evidence to support that your injury met all three requirements. There are several other reasons your disability claim can get denied, as well.
In order to receive your workers’ comp benefits, you must notify your employer and file your claim within the established deadlines. In Maryland, you have 10 days to notify your employer of your injury. If a family is filing a claim as a result of a death, they have 30 days to notify the deceased’s employer. If you’re filing for an occupational disease, you have up to one year after your diagnosis to inform your employer. If you miss any of these deadlines, your claim faces grounds for denial.
Your benefits may also be denied if there is insufficient evidence to prove your injury was work-related. Your employer may claim you weren’t working when you said you were injured or you weren’t following safety protocols. To combat this issue, it’s best to obtain witness accounts that support your claim and ask your doctor if they are able to supply more medical evidence. If your doctor supports your claim but insurers deny it, it’s a good idea to seek a second medical opinion.
If circumstances required you file your workers’ compensation claim after you’ve left your job, like if you’ve been laid off, fired, or quit, insurers will usually deny you your benefits. With the proper evidence and legal support, you may be able to contest the denial.
Reopening a Denied Case
If your claim is denied, you will receive a Notice of Dispute informing you of the decision made by the Workers’ Compensation Commission. The letter will also tell you about your right to request a hearing. To request a hearing, you will need to choose from a list the issue you want to fight and submit that to the Commission. At the hearing, both you and your employer will have the opportunity to voice your side. Prior to the hearing, you’ll want to make sure you feel you have a stronger case than the first time.
If you are unhappy with the verdict, you have 15 days to request a rehearing. A rehearing will only be granted in the event a legal error was made or you have strong, new evidence supporting your claim. In the event you are denied a rehearing, you may appeal to the Circuit Court within 30 days from the day you received the rehearing decision.
The Circuit Court’s ruling will take precedence over the Commissions’. At the hearing, both you and your employer will again have the right to be heard. You will need to prove why the Commission was incorrect in their ruling. If they agree with your claim, they may send your case back to the Commission for reconsideration. If they disagree, you have the right to appeal with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.
Reopening a Settled Case
Once you’ve received your workers’ compensation payments, you may think that’s the end of your case, regardless of what happens. This is not always true. There are legitimate reasons to consider reopening a settled case.
One of the most common reasons to reopen a previously settled case is because your condition has substantially worsened. You must be able to prove the decline is related to the original work injury. A medical professional can help you determine why your condition is getting worse.
If your case was resolved through a workers’ compensation hearing or if you agreed to an award with the possibility of additional benefits, you have the right to reopen your original workers’ comp case. In some instance, however, these cases ended when you received a lump sum payment and forfeited your right to future claims.
If you are able to successfully reopen your workers’ comp case, you may be eligible for benefits that cover your future medical care; and depending on the wording and terms of your settlement, you may be eligible for additional benefits, as well.
Contact Us to Reopen a Case for Worsening Conditions
As you can see, reopening a worker’ compensation case for worsening conditions can be an incredibly long and complicated process. You should anticipate a fight if you choose to reopen your case, and a lawyer may be essential to obtain the outcome you want. Our attorneys have an extensive understanding of these laws and are ready to represent you. For a free consultation, contact us at 800-895-5333 or 410-234-0100.