If you have been injured in a work accident, you might be relieved to have gotten your workers’ comp benefits. Unfortunately, your benefits might expire soon, but you are not feeling or doing better. In fact, you may need more compensation for your losses than your benefits are covering.
Navigating the process of reopening a workers’ compensation claim can be complicated. Without a lawyer, you risk losing compensation for any of your long-term injuries. At HawkLaw, we pride ourselves on our tenacity. Our experienced lawyers have helped hundreds get compensated* for lost wages and medical treatment.
If you are concerned that you will be unable to return to work, it may be time to talk to an attorney about reopening your workers’ comp claim. South Carolina law allows injured workers to reopen their cases if their injuries worsen.
For example, you might have suffered a brain injury on the job. You were steadily getting better, but then, you took a turn for the worse. Your brain injury may require more treatment and care than originally expected. In some cases, you may not be able to return to work at all.
Fortunately, you can reopen an old workers’ compensation injury claim in South Carolina, but only if you did not sign a clincher agreement. A clincher agreement, also referred to as a final release, is a document that relieves an employer and its insurance company from being burdened with any further responsibility as far as paying medical benefits or other workers’ compensation. This release remains in place even when or if the employee’s work-related injury continues or worsens. Thus, once a clincher agreement is signed, your eligibility for reopening a claim is forfeited.
The requirements to reopen an old Workers’ Comp Claim here in South Carolina include:
By meeting the requirements listed above, you can begin the reopening process of an old claim. Since you will need to show proof of a worsened condition, however, it will be beneficial to find an experienced workers’ comp lawyer to help you gather the medical evidence and file to reopen within the legally allowable time limits.
In South Carolina, you have 12 months from the date of the last compensation payment to reopen a workers’ compensation claim. Prior to filing to reopen that claim, you must experience an adverse change in your condition. As such, you will bear the burden of proof that you suffer a worsening condition and that you did not previously sign a clencher agreement with your employer and its insurance carrier.
If you are unsure if you are still within the allowable statute of limitations timeframe to reopen your claim, schedule an initial consultation with a workers’ comp attorney for guidance. Many factors can determine the timeframe in which you are eligible to file.
You will need to talk to your lawyer about filing the right forms, taking your claim to court, and proving to the judge that you are still hurt.
If you have been hurt in a work accident and you are seeking further benefits, your first step will be to gather evidence. Your attorney can help you gather the evidence you need, like doctor’s exams and daily updates on your health.
From there, your lawyer will represent you in front of the judge, showing them how your condition has changed for the worse. The judge will review this evidence, and they will decide whether that is evidence enough that you are still injured and need further benefits.
There are unique challenges involved in reopening a workers’ comp claim in South Carolina. For one, insurance companies diligently attempt to deny these requests since they are not in their own best interests.
Secondly, judges are also hesitant to reopen a previously closed workers’ comp case unless medical records and any other evidence clearly show a reason to do so. An example of such a reason might be that the type of settlement amount or award appears unfair or inadequate under the particular circumstances.
Also, much will depend on how much time has elapsed since the settlement or award. Longer timeframes can interfere with your ability to convince the judge that the worsening condition is indeed related to the original workplace injury and is not a new injury.
A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you overcome all of these challenges and seek additional benefits through a reopened claim. Your legal representation will:
With knowledge in practice areas of employment and workers’ compensation law, along with previous experience, your lawyer can offer you a fair chance to obtain deserved benefits.
In a recent survey, more than nine out of ten respondents with legal representation received an award or settlement in their personal injury case. Compare this to only half of those who chose to handle the process on their own.
With legal representation, you can also walk away with a higher payout amount than those who choose to represent themselves. In fact, on average, legal representation can net you approximately three times more than if you handle your own claim, even after paying law firm attorney fees.
An attorney can better negotiate a lump sum settlement agreement, file or fight against the employer or insurance company with a personal injury lawsuit, and represent you around every turn, helping you avoid aggravation and added stress.
When you are hurt, it can be tough to focus on gathering evidence and making legal decisions for your future. You are focused on your health, and you might also be concerned about supporting yourself and your family.
At HawkLaw, PA, we understand how tough it can be to prove your injuries have worsened. That is why we offer free consultations* for our clients. If you are hurt, and your South Carolina workers’ comp case needs to be reopened, we can get you started by discussing your options and what we can do to help you get your full workers’ comp benefits.
To get started, call your South Carolina workers’ comp lawyer at 1-888-HAWK-LAW (429-5529). You can also fill out the following online contact form.
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