A workers’ compensation case has various stages, some of which occur in every case, and some of which only occur in certain cases. But when does a workers’ compensation case close? It depends on the type of relief that you are seeking and from whom you are seeking relief.
For most cases, a workers’ compensation is never really “closed;” however, many cases come to a natural end and cannot be re-opened. When a claimant has been successful in obtaining permanent partial disability benefits, once the Commission issues its order and the employer/insurer provides the claimant with the compensation due under the Commission’s order, the case will come to a natural end. After this end, the claimant is entitled to reasonable and related medical treatment, at the employer/insurer’s expense, for the claimant’s lifetime. Thus, the claimant’s case is never really closed with the employer/insurer. Once the claimant receives permanent partial disability payments from the employer/insurer, the claimant will have five years to request that the Commission re-open the case for any worsening of condition. If the claimant fails to make a request to re-open within five years, the claimant is thereafter barred from requesting such action from the Commission, and the case is closed.
When a claimant is successful in obtaining permanent total disability benefits, the case will not close until the claimant stops receiving those benefits. A claimant could stop receiving benefits if the employer/insurer pays a total of $45,000 to the claimant, the claimant disability ceases, or the claimant dies.
In other situations, a case may close if the Commission issues an Order, which effectively denies relief. For instance, if the employer/insurer contests whether the injury is work-related and the Commission finds for the employer/insurer, short of appealing the decision to the Circuit Court, the case will be deemed close and the claimant will not be entitled to further relief for that injury.