Getting hurt on the job is a risk many Minnesotans face. Fortunately, employers are required to participate in workers’ compensation to support injured employees. This insurance coverage pays for medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages if you sustain an injury on the job.
Some injuries may put you out of work for many weeks or even years, and this compensation will help you recover without worrying about finances.
But sometimes this coverage ends before you recover from your injuries. You might return to work but realize that you still have difficulty. If your workers’ comp case is closed, but you are still in pain, consider speaking to an attorney. You may be eligible to reopen your closed case.
Please contact our office to arrange a consultation.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a state-mandated insurance program. It provides financial assistance to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. In Minnesota, as in most states, it’s a no-fault system. Employees can receive benefits regardless of who was at fault for the workplace accident.
Workers’ compensation can provide employees with:
- Medical coverage,
- Wage replacement,
- Permanent disability benefits, and
- Death Benefits.
Who receives these benefits and for how long depends on the nature of the injury. Some employees receive workers’ compensation for a short period until they recover. Others might remain on workers’ compensation until they are 67 years old.
What Can I Do If Workers’ Comp Closed My Case But I Still Need Help?
Fortunately, the law allows some people to reopen workers’ comp claims. Reopening a claim is the process of revisiting a previously closed claim to alter the result. The reopening might be due to a change in the claimant’s medical condition or a dispute over benefits. The goal of reopening the claim is usually to increase the benefit for the worker.
How Long After a Workers’ Comp Claim Does It Stay Open?
A workers’ comp claim begins once you report your injury to your employer. They will share this with their insurer, which will investigate the report. If they approve your claim, then you begin to receive benefits.
If they deny your claim, you can speak with a workers’ compensation attorney to see if you can appeal this decision. Your claim stays open once insurance accepts your claim, or you start to receive benefits.
A claim closes when you stop receiving benefits. For example, if you have a temporary injury, the insurer will close your claim once you receive all of your short-term benefits.
Minnesota does not limit how long you have to reopen workers’ compensation claims if you meet the requirements for reopening. You can file to reopen it one year or dozens of years later. You can even reopen it if you move to a different state.
How Do I Reopen My Workers’ Comp Claim?
Not all claims can be reopened. Minnesota law specifies the conditions for reopening workers’ comp claims. Each of these grounds typically requires evidence to support the request for reopening. Meeting these legal requirements is crucial when seeking to reopen a workers’ compensation claim in Minnesota.
You may be able to reopen a case if new evidence emerges. It should show a need for increased compensation payments. For example, the evidence might prove that previous payments cannot cover medical expenses.
You may be able to show that fraud or misconduct on the part of your employer affected your claim. This entails presenting evidence that the employer misrepresented facts, concealed information, or engaged in deceitful practices. By doing so, the employer influenced the outcome of the initial compensation claim.
Fraud may encompass actions like:
- Underreporting the severity of injuries,
- Failing to provide necessary safety measures, or
- Misleading authorities and medical professionals.
If you can prove fraud, you may have the opportunity to obtain a more accurate assessment of your injuries. This may lead to more compensation.
Worsening Medical Condition
If your medical condition significantly worsens after the initial claim, it may be grounds for reopening the claim. The rationale is that injuries that get worse will need further medical treatment or intervention. The original award may not be sufficient to cover these expenses.
Mutual mistake claims that the parties shared an error or misunderstanding. This can include the workers’ compensation insurer or employer. This mutual mistake may relate to the nature or extent of your injuries, the terms of the settlement agreement, or key facts that significantly impacted the case’s outcome. You must demonstrate that both parties were genuinely unaware of certain crucial information or facts at the time of the initial proceedings.
The Reopening Process in Minnesota
You must follow several steps to reopen a workers’ compensation claim.
Gather New Evidence
If you believe your case warrants reopening, you’ll need to gather compelling new evidence to support your claim. This evidence could include updated medical records, expert opinions, and witness statements. You need documentation that demonstrates a change in your condition or reveals errors or fraud in the original proceedings.
File a Petition to Reopen
Your attorney will help you prepare and file a formal petition to reopen your workers’ compensation case. This petition should clearly outline the reasons for reopening. It must also provide detailed evidence and meet requirements set by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI).
DLI Review and Possible Mediation
After filing your petition, the DLI will review your case. Sometimes, the DLI may recommend mediation or negotiation between you and the workers’ compensation insurer. Mediation can help you settle without the need for a formal hearing.
Hearing and Decision
If mediation fails or is not applicable, your case may proceed to a formal hearing. A workers’ compensation judge will evaluate the evidence presented and decide based on the merits of your claim. If the judge finds in your favor, they may order changes to your benefits, a reopening of your case, or other necessary remedies.
If you disagree with the judge’s decision, you have the right to appeal. The process involves presenting your case to the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals for review.
How Arechigo & Stokka Can Help
Reopening a workers’ compensation claim in Minnesota can be a complex ordeal. Hiring the experienced attorneys at our firm can greatly ease the process. We bring extensive knowledge of workers’ compensation laws and regulations.
We know how to interpret the law and safeguard your rights. Our workers’ comp attorney will thoroughly assess your case, strategize an effective plan, and compile compelling evidence to support your petition to reopen.
Arechigo & Stokka also excels in negotiating with insurers. We will help ensure you don’t settle for less than you believe you deserve. If the reopening proceeds to a formal hearing, we will represent you before the workers’ compensation judge. Our firm will advocate for your interests and fight to maximize your benefits.
Schedule a Consultation with a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Work with Arechigo & Stokka if your workers’ comp case closes but you’re still in pain. Our firm has over 10 years of experience representing injured workers in Minnesota. What’s more, attorney Joshua Stokka focuses solely on helping injured people. He has helped many workers recover after being hurt on the job. Call our office today to speak with Josh about your case.
Josh has been representing injured workers for over 10 years. Josh was born and raised in Fargo, North Dakota, and attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminology. Mr. Stokka alson received his law degree from the Hamline University School of Law. During law school, Josh clerked at a Minnesota law firm specializing in personal injury and workers’ compensation. Prior to practicing in the area of workers’ compensation, Josh clerked for a judge in the 7th Judicial District in Minnesota. This valuable experience gave him insight into how judges think, do their jobs behind the scene, and how to frame a case in order to obtain a favorable result. Now, he focuses 100% of his practice on defending injured workers in Minnesota.