I hurt my back again (or neck, or knee, or....). Should I reopen my old claim or file a new one?
Always do both. File a reopening application for an old claim if the medical condition was previously covered by an old claim, and file a new claim, too. It is not necessary for the new injury to cause a new condition. A new injury can aggravate an old condition.
Many work injuries never totally heal, so it is common for a worker to reinjure his or herself. When this happens, the employer almost never wants the worker to file a new claim. This is part of a major problem called claim suppression.
However, it is ALWAYS best for you to file a new injury claim with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries if the event at work qualifies as an injury -- basically, you felt some sort of pain in connection with an event, such as lifting something heavy. Even if you do not go to a doctor right away, report it to a supervisor and make sure it is documented, even if all you do is write it down on your own calendar.
You will have one year to file a claim for the new injury.
If you think the medical problem is an old injury that has been flared up, then file a reopening application, too.
Let the Department of Labor and Industries figure out whether the medical condition is due to a new injury or an old one.
Use these links to file a new claim online or to get the form to reopen an old claim:
New claim/online: http://www.lni.wa.gov/ORLI/ECS/FileFast.asp
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