Oftentimes I hear about what a crummy workers’ compensation system we have here in Arizona. I always tell my clients that one of the bright spots of our Workers’ Compensation Act is the lifetime right to petition to reopen a claim in Arizona.
Defining a Claim
A.R.S. 23-1061(H) provides that:
“On a claim that has been previously accepted, an employee may reopen the claim to secure an increase or rearrangement of compensation or additional benefits by filing with the commission a petition requesting the reopening of the employee’s claim upon the basis of a new, additional or previously undiscovered temporary or permanent condition, which petition shall be accompanied by a statement from a physician setting forth the physical condition of the employee relating to the claim.”
In other words, if the claim was at one time accepted, and was subsequently closed, an injured worker has a lifetime right to petition to reopen the claim if they can show that there has been an objective change in the condition.
This is usually done either by a doctor saying that the physical exam findings are different, or through a diagnostic study such as an x-ray, MRI, or EMG. The change has to have occurred at some point between the date the claim was last closed and the date of the Petition to Reopen (called the “comparative dates”).
What This Means for You
The statute specifically says that a claim “shall not be reopened because of increased subjective pain if the pain is not accompanied by a change in objective physical findings.”
So you can’t just say your pain has gotten worse and try and reopen your claim.
If your doctor has recommended diagnostic testing in order to determine if there is an objective change in the condition, the carrier can be responsible for that as well. Any questions about a Petition to Reopen an Arizona workers’ compensation claim can be directed to the Attorneys at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley.
Chad Snow, X. Alex Carpio, and Brian Weekley are attorneys with offices in Phoenix and Tucson. They have represented thousands of injured workers before the Industrial Commission of Arizona. They can be reached at (602) 532-0700, (520) 647-9000.