When you are hurt at work your main focus is on your treatment, and lost wages. But once you’re better and back to work, most people forget about their workers’ compensation claims and think they are closed. This is normally not the case and by thinking the claim is over you are missing out on other benefits.
Even when you have returned to work and stopped treating, the claim is still open. Most workers’ compensation claims which occurred after 2006 are open for five years from the last payment on the claim. By payment on the claim I mean payment of a medical bill, a payment for lost income, or payment of any other benefit in the claim. Claims before 2006 could be open for up to ten years from the last payment
So why does it matter that a claim is still open? Because there are other awards in workers’ compensation than just getting lost income and medical bills paid. Even if you have returned to work and don’t need any more treatment, these awards may still be available. The two main awards that I deal with on older claims are settlements and permanent partial awards.
I was recently helping a client with a new claim and he mentioned an old injury – after a little investigation I found that it was a 1994 claim which was about to expire. He had recovered from the injury and had not had treatment in close to ten years. He figured the claim was closed once he returned to work. Fortunately we found the claim before it expired and I was able to settle the claim for him.
I always figure it doesn’t hurt to ask if there are any awards available for an old claim. If not, you haven’t lot anything but a little time. But if you can get a settlement or other award – even a nominal amount – its still something that you didn’t have yesterday and probably didn’t know was possible.