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What You Should Know About Modifying Workers’ Comp Awards

August 12, 2021By Niko Pothitakis

If injuries worsen after resolving a workers’ comp claim, it may be possible to reopen the claim. This can allow workers to seek additional benefits. Under Iowa Workers Compensation laws, a claimant has three years from the date of the last weekly benefits payment to reopen a work injury claim. There are important factors to consider before attempting to reopen a claim.

When It’s Acceptable to Modify Workers’ Comp Awards

It’s typically possible to reopen a workers’ comp claim if injured parties can prove that their condition has worsened or changed on a significant level since they initially resolved the case. The claimant must also show that the change resulted from the injury involved in the original workers’ compensation claim. This could be the worsening of the initial injury or the development of an additional condition that resulted because of the injury. The change can also be economic or physical.

In some cases, workplace injury victims may be able to reopen their workers’ comp cases under other circumstances. For instance, an employer or their insurer could commit fraud, warranting the reopening of a case. Other cases may involve workers’ comp judges who made legal or factual errors, or when both sides make mistakes regarding the facts of the case.

A workers’ compensation case can only be reopened in Iowa if it was resolved in certain ways. The case must have been resolved in an agreement for settlement, known as an open file, or if the claimant received an award from a judge without a settlement. If the case resulted in a compromise (closed file) settlement, the victim may have signed away his or her right to have the case reopened.

How to Apply to Reopen a Workers’ Compensation Claim

The steps required when applying to reopen workers’ comp claims typically involve filing a form with the state’s workers’ compensation agency. In this petition, claimants and the workplace injury lawyer will need to include medical evidence detailing the condition. Details include how the injury has worsened, how it’s connected to the original injury, and the prescribed treatment.

After applying, the case will normally start with a hearing in front of a workers’ comp judge. The judge will decide if the case is reopened and whether the claimant qualifies for additional compensation.