Some workers’ comp cases settle, others result in awards.  Either way, the worker usually ends up getting paid some amount for his work injury.  But what if further down the line, after the award is all said or done, something happens to change your health?  Can you go back and try to get a higher industrial disability rating to address that change?  Maybe. You at least have a shot.  It’s called review-reopening.

It’s going to be up to you to show a the Workers’ Comp Deputy that a change has taken place.  It can be an economic or physical change.  But it’s got to be more than a doctor giving you a higher disability rating than before.  You’ve got to show either that your condition has deteriorated to an extent that wasn’t contemplated at the time of settlement or award, or you’ve got to show that it has failed to improve in the way that it was expected to at the time.

Herbert Schultz (not his real name) petitioned the workers’ comp commission to reopen his case recently.  Like most workers’ comp cases, there were a number of medical issues involved.  But he had three main arguments for why his case should be reopened.  First, he argued that a doctor had given him a higher disability rating—by two percentage points—than he had received at the time of his award.  As already discussed, that’s not enough of a factor to reopen a case.

Secondly, Mr. Schultz argued that he had a greater work restriction than he had before, that he was only to lift 20 pounds rather than 35.  Trouble is, that change was based on an error in a doctor’s notes.  The deputy disregarded it for that reason.

Mr. Schultz’s third argument is that he sustained a hernia as a result of physical therapy he was receiving because of his work injury.  And this argument is what won Mr. Schultz a reopening of his case.  Even though the hernia didn’t occur “at” work, it was substantially related to the work injury to persuade the deputy to review his original award.  As a result, the defendants in the case were left footing the bill for the hernia.

Every workers’ comp claim is different.  Do you think you need to reopen yours?  Wondering if you can?  I like to say to my clients, "Help me to help you."  If we can help you, call the Lombardi Law Firm to speak with attorneys Steve Lombardi and Katrina Schaefer. We can be reached at 515-222-1110 or by emailing us at [email protected] and [email protected] We look forward to your call.

Source: File number 5033185

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