When you’re handling a workers’ compensation claim for an “old” injury, you probably have a unique situation. It’s likely that your injury came from a pre-existing condition, you previously had a claim or were late in reporting an injury.
A Washington, D.C. workers’ compensation lawyer can help you understand what legal options you have available now. Working with an old injury is not comfortable or reasonable. But that doesn’t mean you should have to take time off work unpaid.
Late Reporting an Injury
Reporting an injury late isn’t that uncommon, but your employer will likely claim that your injury is too old. The Office of Workers’ Compensation in Washington, D.C. holds a 30-day window for reporting.
However, there are some instances where this office will accept injury claims for up to a year after the injury. How does that happen? These issues are on a case-by-case basis and often cater to those with progressive injuries.
For example, if a box fell off a nearby shelf and hit your shoulder, you were probably only sore for a few days. But, the process of working afterward, repeated movement of that shoulder and lifting heavy boxes could aggravate the issue.
Doctors can often assess if the damage was worthy of workers’ compensation attention at the time of injury. If you thought that something wasn’t a big deal, and then the pain continued to increase until after the window, you can still submit a claim.
Reopening Closed Workers’ Compensation Claims
There are many times when the initial decision on a workers’ compensation claim was overly optimistic. Often doctors and everyone else involved, are hopeful that you’ll make a fast recovery.
Unfortunately, there are times when someone must revisit their workers’ compensation claim because of worsening conditions. From poor work environments to returning to work too quickly, you do have options for these old injuries.
For compensation, a person may have up to six years to reopen a closed workers’ compensation claim. This timeframe is for both compensation and medical benefits. The six years starts from the last payment date.
The process to reopen a claim starts with a petition for medical benefits or compensation. The petition is separate than an appeal. It also takes some pull from the original claim’s decision. After the petition, the Officer for Workers’ Compensation will evaluate what led to this being an ongoing problem.
Most of these cases are not successful unless there was fraud or a serious mistake. It’s not uncommon for doctors to advise a person to return to work too quickly or make a mistake in treatment. When these cases are reopened, an Administrative Law Judge takes the case and reviews all the available evidence.
Claims Concerning Pre-Existing Conditions
If there is the concern that your current injury is part of or directly results from an older injury, expect trouble. Many people will often have repeat injuries, especially after surgery. It’s important to note that this will impact your claim.
Injuries from pre-existing conditions or past injuries almost always see smaller claim payments and less time on disability. Unfortunately with these type of injuries that only sets the person up for more health problems and injuries in the future.
You may have to fight to show that your old injury or pre-existing condition did not lead to your current injury.
Call a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Washington, DC
If you’re ready to pursue your workers’ compensation claim, you need legal help. With a late report or old injury flaring up again you’ll have trouble through almost every step of your process.
Your injury could have come from a past condition, old injury or even natural aging. That doesn’t change the fact that you were hurt on the job. You have medical bills to cover and time lost from work.
A lawyer might be the only help you’ll get in seeking compensation for your claim or disability benefits.
Washington, D.C. Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
For help with your workers’ compensation claim, get legal advice. Contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer at Ashcraft and Gerel for a free consultation. They will happily review your case with you, and listen to why you think this old injury is a problem for your claim.
These experienced lawyers have helped many people through the workers’ compensation claim processes. They understand how your doctor’s notes and findings can impact the final outcome of a claim. Go to someone that is willing to help and knows how the workers’ compensation system works.