Question for Attorney Carbone: Can I Reopen My Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Question: I injured my neck at work a few months ago. The doctor said the injury wasn’t too severe and ordered a few tests. While I was in treatment, I had applied for and received workers’ compensation. However, since I received my settlement, my injuries have gotten increasingly worse. Then pain now travels down my spine and the doctor is telling me I need surgery. My settlement is not going to cover the cost of a surgery. Is it possible to reopen my workers’ compensation claim?
Answer: This is a tricky situation. It is possible to reopen or extending your workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey. However, it all depends on the type of settlement you received.
First, let’s explain the two different types of settlements:
- Section 20 settlement: You will receive your payment in one lump sum. That means there are no weekly payments over time. You also agree that the employer does not have to admit liability. However, if you accept this option, you will not be able to reopen the case in the future. In addition, both the petitioner and the respondent must agree to the lump sum and the judge needs to approve it. If any party rejects the settlement, then this option cannot go forward.
- Section 22 order approving settlement: You will receive a percentage of the disability. For example, if you injure your hand, you may only receive 20 percent of the disability. The injured party will be able to modify the award within two years of the last payment of benefits and seek addition benefits. And if there is a reinjury to that body party anytime in the future which can result in an increase in disability benefits, the employer will receive a credit for the percentage paid.
There are both pros and cons of each settlement. For example, a Section 20 settlement means the situation is done once and for all once the payment is received. Yet, if you do receive a Section 20 settlement, then you cannot reopen your case. But if you received the Section 22 settlement, then it is possible.
But any time you have to deal with workers’ compensation claims, it’s best to discuss your legal options with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. If you were injured at work, get help today. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone now for a free consultation.