Can you file or reopen an old workers' comp injury claim in New York?

employee with old workers' comp injury

In many cases, when a workers’ comp claim is settled your work-related injuries will have stabilized and you should have a good idea of the future physical limitations and treatment needs.

But what happens when your condition or injury unexpectedly gets worse or compelling new medical evidence shows you're more disabled than the initial reports showed.

If you have an old workers' compensation injury and you've been dealing with an unexpected medical issue that's worse than what was originally diagnosed by your doctor after a judge ruled on your claim, or even after a settlement agreement was signed — don't panic!

It may still be possible for you to get the support you need now. 

An experienced New York workers’ comp lawyer nearby can help you navigate this complex legal process. The workers’ comp lawyers at Terry Katz & Associates have helped thousands of individuals with their workers’ comp claims and will help you understand if your claim may be eligible to be reopened or modified.

Call 888-488-7459 today or contact us online for a free consultation. 

How long after a work injury can I file a workers’ claim in New York?

New York state law provides some precise details about the time limit on workers’ comp claims. New York allows for injured employees to make claims like this within two years of the injury. For example, if you suffered an on the job injury last year related to an equipment failure, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a formal claim in a court of law or with an insurance provider.

The state also states that employees need to tell their employer about the accident as soon as possible, immediately if possible. 

This should be communicated at least within 30 days in written form to an employer. More so, a person needs to seek medical attention right away from an authorized Workers' Compensation Board-approved provider.

In short, as soon as possible, report the injury. Seek medical care as soon as possible as well. Then, you have up to two years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit for compensation for your workers' compensation claim.

If you wait beyond this statute of limitations, the workers’ compensation insurance company has the legal right to deny your claim. Even if injured workers have justifiable claims, with evidence of medical treatment and care, the workers' comp case may not move forward if it is beyond this allowable time.

Is there a time limit on workers’ compensation?

As noted, there is a 2-year time limit when you must file an initial claim for workers' compensation benefits. Workers' compensation law has a time limit to prevent companies from facing losses years after an incident occurs when witnesses and evidence may no longer be available. It's always a good idea to act quickly to protect your right to compensation.

However, if you have an old injury and are unsure if you can file a claim for reimbursement of your medical costs, speaking to a workers' compensation attorney is still work. Your work-related injury claim may be complex, but your legal team will work with you to do all they can to protect your right to file a claim.

Can you file a workers' compensation claim for an old injury?

An old workers' comp injury may impact your life for years to come. You may be struggling with pain, limitations on mobility, or an instance in which you have a new injury that stems from an old problem. As noted, you have two years to file an initial claim for disability benefits.

In New York, you can file a second claim or a subsequent workers' compensation claim for a prior injury. The type of benefits you receive in this claim depends on multiple factors. That includes aspects related to the nature of the new accident and whether it relates to the prior injury or came from it.

Here is an example of how this may work in your situation. Let's say a person suffers a significant injury on the job and hurts their back as a result. They filed a work comp claim right away. That includes providing medical records and documenting wages and other losses resulting from what's occurred. You may have spent some time in rehab recovering.

Perhaps you went back to work, but the work you do should have been limited to non-weight bearing only activities. Within a short amount of time, you injure your back again. That may mean you now qualify to file a claim for the new injury even though it is similar to the problem you've already had.

What if, when you sustained this new injury, you were still receiving treatment for the back injury? In this situation, the new injury may be apportioned. If this is the case, the employer and the insurance company may seek to lower the benefits available on the new claim by assigning the losses to the old injury claim. Though a bit confusing, this is not uncommon, and it may impact the workers' comp benefits you end up receiving.

What about claims for new benefits from a workers' comp claim?

New York law allows for individuals to receive additional benefits from a workers' comp claim. According to New York State, it is possible to apply for additional benefits at any time within 18 years after the original injury occurred. 

It is possible to apply for those disability benefits up to 8 years after the last benefit payment is made. For example, if you suffered an injury to your back in 2010 and then developed additional complications from that injury in 2015, you may still be able to obtain compensation for those further losses.

Keep in mind that this is far more complex of a situation. 

As a result, you need to use a specific special form if it has been more than seven years since the injury occurred or three years after the last payment for disability benefits was paid to you. That is because the additional benefits come from a special state fund.

How long do workers’ comp claims stay open?

When you have a medical condition that limits your quality of life, file your workers' compensation case within the shortest amount of time possible. Your law firm can help you to do so. However, just filing your claim does not mean you will receive compensation in a short amount of time. 

In short, you have two years to file a claim for your workplace injury, but it may take longer for that lawsuit to work through the court system and a settlement to be reached.

Once you do receive a settlement in your case, your workers' compensation benefits are outlined and clearly explained to you. If you are on permanent disability, you may be able to take a lump-sum payment to settle the case. 

Others will not take a comp settlement like this but rather will receive ongoing benefits over a period of time. The number of works and the amount of money possible to collect from a work injury each week varies based on the situation. Some people may receive payments for years to come.

What about pre-existing conditions?

A pre-existing condition is an injury a person has before filing a workers' compensation claim. A typical example of this is a back injury. In New York, a pre-existing condition does not bar you from filing a workers' compensation claim. However, it is important to know when your old injury may cause a problem for your current claim.

For example, if you have a workplace accident that aggravates or worsens the pre-existing condition, you may still be able to file for compensation for that injury. In this situation, eligibility depends on if there is a new injury or new damage to the injury rather than an existing condition that's continuing to limit mobility or functionality.

If the previous injury to your back was made worse by lifting heavy equipment, and it's possible to show how it is worsened, you may be able to file a claim for benefits. This may include benefits for lost wages as well as medical costs. 

Worsening pain, mobility, or complications may limit your ability to continue to work long term. It is essential to talk to an attorney about your case in these situations. Aggravation from workplace injuries can be debilitating, which is why you should seek out the support you need from an attorney to know if you have a case.

Discuss your old workers’ comp injury and legal rights with an attorney today

An old claim may be hard to obtain compensation for if the 2-year time limit expires. However, don't write off the process just yet. Call a personal injury law office to discuss your workplace accident. You may be entitled to compensation for your losses in many situations.

Our experienced attorneys specialized in workers' compensation cases, and can look at your medical records, review your circumstances and help you build the strongest claim. We aggressively pursue maximum comp benefits and disability benefits and seek other payment sources such as social security disability benefits and/or personal injury lawsuits. 

Contact Terry Katz & Associates online or call 888-488-7459 today for a free initial consultation.

Terry Katz, Esq.
Terry Katz, Esq., the founding Member of the firm, handles all aspects of Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability cases.
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