If you are contemplating a settlement or going to a hearing of your workers’ compensation case, you may wonder if your case can ever be reopened. In Minnesota, it is possible – though unlikely – that you could succeed in reopening your case in the future.
Why Would a Case Need to Be Reopened?
A workers’ compensation case may need to be reopened for a variety of reasons, including:
- A significant worsening in the injured worker’s medical status
- An issue with the settlement or the court’s award of benefits
Minnesota law only allows a case to be reopened for four reasons, each of which require evidence to prove. The reasons are:
- a mutual mistake of fact;
- newly discovered evidence;
- fraud; or
- a substantial change in medical condition since the time of the award.
(Minn. Stat. § 176.461.)
Mutual mistake in fact could occur if everyone involved in the case was wrong about a key piece of information used to make the award or agree on the settlement. Newly discovered evidence may arise if, for example, you find documents or photos that you did not know existed at the time of the award. Fraud may occur if your employer falsifies records relating to the injury and you discover it after the award is made.
What Is a Substantial Change in Medical Condition?
It is not enough to show that your medical condition has gotten worse since the award was made or the settlement confirmed. When you entered into a settlement, you probably agreed that the settlement took into account a possible worsening of your condition. The settlement may have closed out the possibility of recovering future medical expenses. Awards are intended to compensate you for benefits at that time, not for any possible future issues (unless expressly cited in the award).
To show a substantial change in medical condition, you must prove that (1) the change occurred since the time of the award, (2) it was clearly not anticipated, and (3) could not reasonably have been anticipated at the time of the award. (Minn. Stat. § 176.461.) This is a difficult standard to meet. As such, consult a lawyer if you feel there is a need to reopen your workers’ comp case.
Need help getting workers’ compensation for your injury? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.