Possibly. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation makes a procedure called “reactivation” available to people whose work-related injuries or illnesses worsen or produce previously undetected symptoms after their original benefits ended. Not every person is eligible to file for reactivation, however, and getting a workers’ comp case reopened requires clearing some significant hurdles.
Before taking any other consideration, you must wait at least 24 months from the day on which your original case closed to apply for reactivation. The second major criterion for applying for reactivation is that your disabling symptoms must be produced by the same injury or illness that merited your earlier workers’ compensation claim.
As with any workers’ comp claim, the persistent or worsening injury or illness must be serious enough to keep you out of work for a significant amount of time. Additionally, the disabling symptoms must be confirmed by a health care provider who is recognized as qualified by the workers’ comp program.
In short, you will only be able to reopen your closed workers comp case if you can produce strong medical evidence of your symptoms and if there is no doubt that the symptoms never went away and remain disabling.
It is worth consulting with an experienced Ohio workers’ comp attorney before you start filling out an application to reactivate your case. If you settled your earlier workers comp claim by signing an agreement to release the program and your employer from all future liability, your application for reactivation will be rejected automatically. A lawyer will know how to interpret your settlement agreement and how to walk you through your legal options if going back to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation is not possible.
A workers comp lawyer can also assist with the paperwork you must submit to the bureau. For your part, it will help if you return to the doctors and other health care providers who diagnosed and treated you while you originally received workers’ comp benefits. Also, the bureau instructs anyone who wants to apply for reactivation to “tell their provider whether their claim is inactive [i.e., previously settled], if they know, so the provider can thoroughly document the need for medical treatment and/or prescription medication(s) and how the medical treatment and/or prescription medication(s) relates to the original workplace injury and allowed condition(s) in the claim.”
At the Columbus offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman, we welcome opportunities to assist injured and ill workers at all stages of the workers’ comp claim process. You can request help and advice on reopening your workers’ compensation case by calling us at (614) 221-3318 or (800) 678-3318. We also take appointments online. The initial consultation will cost you nothing.