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.
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.
Full and Final Settlement
In Maryland, some workers’ compensation cases conclude when an insurer offers, and an injured workers accepts, a full and final settlement. This means the comp insurance company is offering a sum of money that is designed to cover all current and future medical and indemnity benefits for a case. It’s important to realize that once this happens there are, in fact, no more benefits. This is not a decision to be taken lightly. Make sure you understand your full and final settlement completely.