If you have questions about reopening a NC Workers Compensation claim, read on to find out more information on if and when this can be done.
If your workers’ compensation case has been settled for some time, but now you are experiencing physical difficulties resulting from the same on-the-job injury, don’t feel alone. Many NC injured workers find themselves in similar situations.
Reopening a NC Workers Compensation Claim
In North Carolina, workers’ compensation settlements have a significant and unique feature which can be extremely beneficial to injured workers. According to North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Law, a workers’ compensation settlement can be re-opened if the settlement was not made by a clincher agreement. Settlement agreements must be approved by the North Carolina Industrial Commission. If you look at your prior WC settlement does it say “Compromised Settlement” at the top or was it settled using NCIC Form 26? If you settled under Form 26, you can reopen if you meet the below time limitations. Compromised settlements are usually only reopened for fraud and other misrepresentations.
North Carolina law states settlement agreements are generally binding on the parties after they have been approved by the Industrial Commission. However, the language contained in N.C. General Statute §97-47 allows for a final award of the Industrial Commission to be re-opened, reviewed, or modified based on a change in the injured worker’s condition. The statute specifically states:
“Upon its own motion or upon the application of any party in interest on the grounds of a change in condition, the Industrial Commission may review any award, and on such review may make an award ending, diminishing, or increasing the compensation previously awarded…but no such review shall be made after two years from the date of the last payment of compensation pursuant to an award under this Article, except that in cases in which only medical or other treatment bills are paid, no such review shall be made after 12 months from the date of the last payment of bills for medical or other treatment, paid pursuant to this Article.”
It is important to understand that the statute has a two (2) year time limitation which requires that these “change of condition” claims be filed within the specified time frame. That means an injured worker may re-open a settled case within two years of when the last compensation payment was made. In “medical only” claims, the time limitation is for one (1) year after the last medical bill was paid.
Reopening a NC Workers Compensation Claim can be done, but injured workers must pay attention to settlement dates. If you are an injured worker who is considering settlement of your workers’ compensation claim or has settled your workers’ compensation claim based on a disability impairment rating, and have questions about future medical treatment, then contact a NC Workers Compensation Lawyer. The Bishop Law Firm represents Workers’ Compensation clients in Raleigh, Durham, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Smithfield, Louisburg, Chapel Hill, Fayetteville, Roanoke Rapids and surrounding areas in North Carolina. Call us at (919) 615-3095.