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The reopening of an approved workers' compensation claim

West Virginia workers who have suffered permanent total disability can have their lives turned upside-down. They may need extensive medical care in an attempt to recoup from their injuries or medical condition, and their inability to work leaves them with significant lost wages. Taken together, these losses can leave an injured worker in a precarious financial position. Although many West Virginians injured in a workplace accident are able to recover some of their losses through the workers' compensation system, the funds are not endless, and they are not given freely.

Those who have suffered permanent total disability, for example, may remain under scrutiny. Under West Virginia law, the Workers' Compensation Commission or an insurance company may ask that a benefits recipient provide documentation to determine if they are still eligible for benefits. This documentation may include financial records, such as tax returns, as well as affidavits regarding work activities and recreational activities.

The Commission or insurer may also ask a workers' compensation recipient to appear before them to answer questions under oath. The goal is to assess whether the individual's injuries remain as serious as originally claimed, and if the individual is able to return to work. If the Commission or an insurer believes that there have been significant changes, then the claim may be reopened, which could lead to a reduction or cessation of workers' compensation benefits.

Successfully obtaining workers' compensation can have its own challenges. Yet, even once these benefits are awarded, additional legal issues may arise. Those who are concerned about their financial well-being as it related to their workers' compensation benefits may want to think about speaking with a legal professional of their choosing to learn more about what they can do to protect their rights.

Source: West Virginia Legislature, "Series 5 Permanent Total Disability," accessed on Dec. 11, 2016

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