Reopening Your L&I Claim
Did you know that in the state of Washington, you can always apply to reopen your closed L&I claim? This means that even if your claim has been closed for years, reopening is an option. If your medical condition worsens and requires additional medical treatment after claim closure (even when a disability award has been paid), you may apply to Reopen Your L&I Claim by submitting an Application to Reopen Claim. However, if your claim has been rejected, you may not reopen it—though you can always file a new claim for a new injury or re-injury of a preexisting condition.
Even when you no longer work for the employer where you originally filed a claim, you can still apply to reopen!
CAUTION – if you fail to apply to reopen your claim within 7 years of the date of the very first claim closure, you may not be entitled to receive monetary benefits (though you may still be able to get medical treatment).
If you have applied to reopen, your claim has been rejected, or your application to reopen has been denied, you should immediately contact a qualified attorney to get legal help. Failure to act timely can result in the permanent denial of monetary benefits.
Even if you only have questions about the process, and it has been some time since your claim has closed – make an appointment with your doctor right away to apply for claim reopening and/or contact a qualified attorney right away.
RCW 51.32.160(1)(d) provides that an application to reopen an L&I claim shall be granted if the Department of Labor & Industries does not issue an order of denial within 90 days of the Department’s receipt of that application. However, according to L&I rules in Washington State, upon “good cause” the Department may extend the time for making its final determination on the injured worker’s application by an additional 60 days. That said, all applications to reopen must be formally approved or denied within 150 days.
Extension of the decision to the full 150 days for good cause to can occur if:
- The Department is unable to schedule and obtain the results of an Independent Medical Examination (IME)
- The attending provider has failed to respond to Department requests for clarification or additional information
- There is some other unanticipated barrier to making the prompt consideration otherwise required within the first 90 days following most applications to reopen
This process is complex. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the experienced L&I attorneys at Emery Reddy for help.