If you meet the required legal elements, your Washington State workers’ compensation claim may be reopened. In the event that you need to reopen a workers’ compensation case in Washington, it is imperative that you take immediate action. You have a limited time to apply to reopen and receive full benefits. In this post, the experienced Seattle workers’ compensation attorneys at The Walthew Law Firm explain the most important things that you need to know about reopening a workers’ compensation claim in the state of Washington.
Washington State Law: Reopening a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Under Washington’s workers’ compensation law (RCW 51.32.160), injured workers have a legal right to reopen their claim. State policymakers have recognized the fact that workplace injuries have the potential to unexpectedly worsen over time. There is always the possibility that a Washington workers’ compensation claim will need to be reopened so th
at the injured worker can obtain benefits. The right to reopen a workers’ compensation claim in Washington is not without limitations. As such, it is important that injured workers have a basic understanding of their rights.
How Long Do You Have to Reopen a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Washington?
Under Washington’s state statute, the time limit for reopening a workers’ compensation case varies based on a few key factors. To start, there is no time limit for pursuing additional medical benefits. Victims of workplace accidents have the right to reopen their case to apply for medical benefits at any time in their life.
However, there are limitations on how long injured workers have to pursue full benefits. Under the law, the injured workers generally have seven years to pursue full benefits. Full benefits may include compensation for time-loss, vocational training, permanent partial disability, and pension. The seven-year clock begins to run from the date the first closing order becomes final.
There are two basic exceptions to the seven-year rule for full benefits. First, workplace eye injuries are treated differently under Washington law. Due to the unique conditions involved, eye injury victims have 10 years to reopen their claim to seek full benefits. Additionally, the Director has discretion to reopen cases for full benefits after seven years have passed, though discretion is not frequently given.
What Do You Need to Show to Obtain Benefits?
Reopening a workers’ compensation can be challenging. Workplace accident injured workers should seek the legal representation of a qualified attorney who can help them present a strong case. In order to reopen your claim, you will need to be able to prove that the medical condition(s) related to the industrial injury “objectively worsened.”
How to Reopen a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Washington
To reopen your Washington workers’ compensation claim, you or your doctor must complete and submit the state’s official Application to Reopen Claim Due to Worsening Condition. When submitting this application, you need to be certain that you have provided sufficient medical evidence to successfully prove your case. As reopening a workers’ compensation claim can be difficult, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an attorney who can help you build the strongest case possible.
What Happens If I Moved Out of State Since the Claim Was Settled?
If you have moved to a new state, it will make no impact on your ability to reopen your Washington workers’ compensation claim. As long as you were injured in a workplace accident in Washington, you will retain your rights no matter where you currently live. Though, to effectively pursue your claim you will need to work with a doctor knowledgeable in Washington State’s industrial insurance law.
Contact Our Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Seattle
At The Walthew Law Firm, our Seattle workers’ compensation attorneys have been serving residents of Washington for more than nine decades. We have extensive experience handling reopened workers’ compensation claims.
If you were hurt on the job and you need legal advice, please do not hesitate to call us today at (206) 535-1385 to schedule a free legal consultation. With offices in Seattle and Everett, we represent workplace accident victims in communities throughout the state, including in Bellevue and Tacoma.