Pursuing a work comp claim in North Carolina isn’t an easy thing to do. Asides from the physical and psychological pain you’ll have to endure, the process of getting adequate compensation can be challenging. That’s why you need all the help you can get from a qualified workers’ compensation attorney. Your work comp lawyer will ensure that you get the best compensation possible for your injury.
Usually, you’ll have to wait till your doctor confirms that you’ve reached MMI (maximum medical improvement) to settle your claim. Reaching MMI means that your condition has stabilized, and further treatment wouldn’t necessarily improve your work-related ailment. In addition, it is when you’ve reached MMI that you can be sure of the extent of damage your injury caused. As such, MMI allows the insurance company to offer you damages that are commensurate with your injury.
Unfortunately, MMI only means that your injury will not improve further, even with more treatment. It doesn’t imply that your condition will never worsen. So, what happens when you’ve settled your claim upon reaching MMI, and your condition worsens? Let’s find out.
What Does a Change in Condition Mean?
A change in condition means that your work-related injury has gotten worse, usually after reaching MMI and returning to work. It indicates that your condition deteriorated after an initial award and such change is due to the original injury. In that case, such worsened conditions may prevent you from continuing with your job and make you lose income.
For your change in condition to be valid, you must show that your worsened situation is due to the initial work-related injury. That is, there’s a causal connection between the original injury and your worsened conditions. You must also support your claims with medical evidence or a report from a qualified doctor.
Does a Change in Condition for the Worse Affect My Work Comp Benefits?
In North Carolina, injured workers can reopen their workers’ compensation claim within two years from the last payment date. When the claim is a ‘medical only’ case, injured victims may reopen their claims within a year. That’s because injured workers’ medical conditions can worsen after settling their claims. With this new deteriorating condition, they may need more compensation for their medical expenses and lost income.
Since the earlier compensation didn’t cover the worsened conditions, they’ll need to reopen their claims to accommodate those. So, a change in condition will mean that you get more work comp benefits added to your initial compensation. So, in essence, if you reopen your work comp claim due to a worsened condition, you can get additional financial compensation.
However, eligible workers must always consider the time limitation when contemplating whether to reopen their claims. If you don’t allege a change of condition within the stipulated two years, you’ll lose your right to additional compensation.
What If I Signed a Clincher Agreement?
North Carolina workers can either settle their work comp claims using NCIC Form 26 or through clincher agreements. The NCIC Form 26 allows you to adjust your compensation settlement and awards if your condition worsens. However, if you settled your work comp claim via a clincher agreement, that may not be possible. The only way you can reopen a work comp settlement by clincher agreement is if you allege fraud.
A clincher agreement is also called a compromise settlement agreement. It connotes a full and final resolution and settlement of all the issues and benefits in a work comp case. A compromise settlement agreement means that you have received a lump sum settlement for your work comp claims. In return, it means that you’re reaching a compromise that absolves your employer from future liability arising from the case. In summary, by signing a clincher agreement, you cannot ask for additional compensation if your condition worsens.
Get Legal Help Immediately by Contacting Us Now!
It’s possible to reopen your work comp claim when your condition changes for the worse, even after a compensatory award. However, you need help from a reputable work comp lawyer to get additional benefits for your worsened condition successfully. That means that you need to visit us at Waple and Houk as soon as you can.
Over the years, our thoroughly bred and dedicated attorneys have successfully secured additional compensation for numerous injured Charlotte employees. We have an unbeatable track record of providing top-notch legal services and satisfaction for all our clients. We are always here for you at any time and any day. Schedule a free consultation with us ASAP.