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Can You Reopen a Closed Workers’ Compensation Case in New Jersey?

Law Offices of Beth White  April 16, 2024

Many injured workers who didn't receive the full compensation they were entitled to may be wondering if it's possible to reopen a closed workers' compensation case in New Jersey. 

The good news is that New Jersey law does provide avenues for reopening a case—under certain conditions. 

When Can You Reopen a Closed Case?

A closed workers' compensation case in New Jersey can be reopened if there's a significant change in the condition of the injured worker that was not anticipated at the time the original settlement was reached.  

This could include a worsening of the injury or the discovery of new medical conditions directly related to the original workplace injury. 

It's important to note that there is a time limit for reopening a case. According to New Jersey law, you have two years from the date of the last compensation payment to file an application to reopen your case. This window allows injured workers to seek additional medical treatment, rehabilitation benefits, or a reassessment of disability benefits if their situation has changed. 

When an Old Injury Gets Aggravated

There are instances when an old injury from a workplace accident might become aggravated or worsen over time. This can happen due to various reasons such as aging, engaging in a different job that places stress on the injury, or even through everyday activities.  

When the condition related to the original workplace injury becomes more severe, it can impact the quality of life of the worker on top of their ability to work and earn an income. In such cases, you should consider reopening the workers' compensation case to seek additional benefits that reflect the aggravated condition.  

In these cases, injured employees must show that the aggravation of the condition is linked to the initial work injury to potentially receive more compensation, medical care, or disability benefit adjustments. 

How to Proceed With Reopening Your Case

To initiate the process of reopening your New Jersey workers' compensation case, it's crucial to follow a structured approach to ensure the application is submitted accurately and within the legal timeframes.  

By navigating these steps efficiently, you can strengthen your chances of securing the additional benefits warranted by the change in your condition: 

  1. Document the Change: You’ll need to provide evidence of the change in your medical condition. This could include new medical records, reports from your doctor, or any other documentation that proves your condition has worsened or that new issues have arisen. 

  1. File an Application: With the help of a lawyer, you'll file an application with the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation. This application will request the reopening of your case, citing the new evidence of your changed condition. 

  1. Medical Evaluation: Expect to undergo a medical evaluation to assess the changes in your condition. The insurance company may also require you to see their doctor for an independent medical examination. 

  1. Negotiation or Trial: Once the new evidence is submitted, the case may be negotiated between your attorney and the insurance company. If an agreement cannot be reached, the case may go to trial before a judge, who will make a decision based on the evidence presented. 

The Importance of Working With an Attorney

Due to the complexities involved in reopening a workers' compensation case, we highly recommend working with an experienced attorney.  

Not only can a workers' comp lawyer guide you through the process, but they can also ensure that your application to reopen the case is as strong as possible.  

Beyond the strategic benefits of having a knowledgeable advocate by your side, there are other critical reasons why partnering with an attorney is beneficial when seeking to reopen a workers' compensation case: 

  • Legal Expertise: Workers’ compensation laws and procedures can be complex and vary significantly from one state to another. An attorney with specific experience in New Jersey workers' compensation cases can navigate these intricacies with ease, ensuring legal compliance and maximizing your chances of a favorable outcome. 

  • Evidence Gathering: A strong case requires solid evidence. An attorney can help in compiling and presenting evidence effectively. This includes gathering medical reports, expert testimonies, and other crucial documentation that can substantiate the worsening of your condition and its direct relation to your work injury. 

  • Negotiation Skills: Insurers often employ tactics to minimize compensation. A skilled attorney knows how to negotiate effectively with insurance companies, ensuring that your rights are protected and striving to achieve the best possible settlement. 

  • Trial Confidence: If your case goes to trial, an attorney will represent you in court and present the strongest possible arguments to support your claim. 

  • Stress Reduction: Dealing with legal proceedings can be stressful, especially when recovering from or dealing with an aggravated injury. Having an attorney handle the legal aspects can alleviate much of this stress, allowing you to focus on your health and recovery. 

Choosing to work with an attorney can significantly impact the outcome of your attempt to reopen a workers' compensation case, providing not only legal expertise but also peace of mind during a potentially challenging process. 

Seek a New Beginning

In New Jersey, the possibility to reopen a closed workers' compensation case provides a critical safety net for injured workers whose conditions change.  

However, given the strict timelines and the need for substantial evidence, navigating this process can be complicated. Seeking the assistance of a knowledgeable workers' compensation attorney can offer you the best chance of successfully reopening your case and securing the additional support you need. 

At the Law Offices of Beth White, we understand the challenges and uncertainties that come with workplace injuries. Our dedicated team is ready to help you explore your options and pursue the best possible outcomes for your situation.  

If you believe your closed workers' compensation case needs to be revisited, contact us to see how we can assist you. 

Our New Jersey law firm has been representing injured workers since 2008. Whether you’re in Millville, Bridgeton, Pittsgrove, Ocean City, or a nearby area, we’re ready to help.