Here at the Law Offices of Marc Francis, workers compensation lawyers in Sonoma County, we often receive calls from injured workers who are having increased problems from their work injury and ask whether they can “re-open” their case. These workers have sometimes unfortunately developed disability or need for medical treatment in a part of their body which was not part of their award. Likewise they may have experienced a worsening of their condition causing an increase in permanent partial disability or now have a need for medical care to a body part or system that did not require medical care when their case was settled.
The legal process involves the preparation and filing with the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board of a Petition to Re-Open for New and Further Disability. It is necessary to gather current medical information to support the petition. The petition typically also requires additional legal work such as a deposition, repeat Qualified Medical exam, or court proceedings. We can help with this work.
A common situation in a Petition to Re-Open for New and Further Disability is when an injured worker with a left shoulder injury, for example, develops disability or need for medical care in the opposite right shoulder from over-using the right shoulder to compensate for the injured left shoulder. This is known as a compensable consequence injury. The same result often occurs in knees, wrists, elbows, and other body parts.
Another example of a situation where a Petition to Re-Open is indicated is an injured knee repaired by arthroscopic surgery which worsens after case settlement and the treating surgeon prescribes the need for a total knee replacement, a major operation likely to result in significant additional permanent partial disability, temporary total disability, or other workers’ compensation benefits.
An additional example of a situation requiring the preparation and filing of a Petition to Re-Open, which recently occurred in our office, is the development of infection in a replaced knee. This required extensive hospitalization, treatment of the infectious disease, removal of the knee prosthetic, and replacement of the artificial knee with a new prosthetic.
Other examples include situations where a body part or system did not require an award of future medical care at the time of settlement, but such a need develops over time because of a worsening of the condition.
There are very important time deadlines on filing a Petition to Re-Open for New and Further Disability, so it makes sense to contact a Sonoma County workers’ comp lawyer without delay for information on how to protect your rights. At the Law Offices of Marc Francis, we fight for our client’s rights first and foremost. Contact us today at (707) 664-9675 to discuss your case.