Many workers who suffer from an accident and injury in the workplace can utilize the workers’ compensation system to meet their financial needs while they are unable to work. However, many workers find that once they recover and return to work, their original injury worsens.
The workers’ compensation system accounts for these changes and allows a worker to seek compensation for a change in condition even after they have been released from a doctor. Under South Carolina laws, a worker or anyone involved in a workers’ compensation claim has the right to revise a claim based on a change in condition.
The South Carolina workers’ compensation commission will review a workers’ compensation claim by focusing on the original injury and the amount of the change in their medical condition. They may then choose to end, decrease, or increase a worker’s rate of compensation.
If you were released by a doctor to return to work and have subsequently experienced a change in your condition, a workers’ compensation attorney could help you explore your eligibility for additional workers’ compensation. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney could guide you through the legal process of proving your change of condition in a Charleston workers’ compensation case.
Definition of a Change in Condition in Workers’ Compensation Cases
A change of condition in a Charleston workers’ compensation case generally occurs when there is a worsening of the physical condition of the claimant due to the original injury. If a worker needs to modify their compensation benefits, they must typically prove the change in their original condition by a preponderance of evidence. The change must also be shown to have occurred after the last payment of compensation, according to S.C. Code. Ann. § 42-17-90.
Recent case law has clarified that the Workers’ Compensation Act may not require medical evidence that a worker has experienced a change in their condition. This means a worker may not need to provide evidence such as x-rays or MRI’s to demonstrate their condition has changed. Instead, the workers’ compensation commission may award benefits solely on subjective evidence such as level of physical pain and mental anguish.
Exceptions to a Change in Condition
The workers’ compensation system generally allows a worker to re-open a workers’ compensation claim if there is a change in their condition. However, if a claim was settled with a clincher agreement or a final release, an employee may not be entitled to re-open their workers’ compensation claim.
Can a Claim be Re-opened at Any Time?
If a worker is currently under the care of a doctor, their doctor will regularly monitor their progress. If they determine their condition or injury is worsening, they can make their recommendations regarding the worker’s compensation accordingly.
Once a doctor has released a worker to return to work, S.C. Code Ann. §42-17-90 establishes a claimant can file to reopen their claim if they have a worsening condition within one year from the date of the last payment of compensation.
How a Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Charleston Could Help
A seasoned workers’ compensation lawyer understands each worker’s recovery from a workplace accident is unique, and that sometimes their condition may change or worsen over time.
An attorney could employ an aggressive and comprehensive strategy to demonstrate the change of condition in a Charleston workers’ compensation case. They could leverage their knowledge of workers’ compensation laws to demonstrate your legal right to increased benefits.