You might assume that, in most cases, when a workers’ compensation case has been closed in Pennsylvania, that’s the end of it. However, under some circumstances, this is not true and the case may be reopened at a later date.
When can this happen, and when do workers’ comp cases actually close? Learn more below about the answers to these questions, which we frequently hear from our clients.
Do Workers’ Comp Cases Ever Close?
The answer is “yes.” Some workers’ compensation cases can close under certain circumstances, but probably not as often as you think. Workers’ comp cases might close when:
- You stop receiving benefits
- Your doctor says you have achieved maximum medical improvement
- The Workers’ Compensation Bureau declines additional benefits
However, not all of these reasons are legitimate reasons to close your claim. You may still need medical treatment. The most common circumstance that leads to closing a workers’ compensation case is when you accept a settlement from your employer. In this case, you receive a lump sum from the insurance company. In return, you agree not to seek further benefits stemming from this injury. A settlement permanently closes your workers’ comp case in every instance. Make sure you speak to an attorney before accepting a settlement.
The other thing that can close a case permanently is death. If you die, your case will be closed and your family will not be able to request death benefits unless the work injury caused the death.
Can You Reopen a Closed Workers’ Comp Case in PA?
If you want to reopen a Workers’ Comp claim in PA, you will need to prove there are extenuating circumstances that justify reopening the case. You will need to prove this when you file to reopen the claim.
The first circumstance under which you can reopen a case is if your condition has gotten worse. This must happen before your claim has been settled. For instance, say you suffered a knee injury while working on the loading dock at a warehouse. You go through months of physical therapy and your doctor clears you to return to work. But on your first day back on the job, your knee pain flares up again.
If the pain in your knee is directly related to the original injury and is exacerbated by something you do on the job, then you may be eligible to reopen the case. On the other hand, your claim would not be reopened if the injury was made worse by something unrelated to the original work injury, however. For example, if your knee felt worse because you went running the day before, that may not qualify to reopen the case.
Applying to reopen a case that has been closed must occur within the designated timeframe. In Pennsylvania, workers have up to 500 weeks after getting their last workers’ comp payment to file to reopen the case.
Not sure whether you qualify to reopen your workers’ comp case in PA? The lawyers at Frommer D’Amico can assist you. We only represent employees, not employers, and we only take workers’ comp cases. Schedule an initial consultation by calling 717-400-1000 or by getting in touch online.
John Frommer has been litigating Pennsylvania workers’ compensation and personal injury cases for more than 30 years. Since 1997 he has been an Adjunct Instructor of Trial Advocacy at The Dickinson School of Law at Penn State. He was named to the Order of the Barristers and named as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer for Workers’ Compensation.
Reviewed by John Frommer.