Can I Reopen or Vacate a Workers’ Compensation Settlement Agreement?
Vacating a Prior Stipulation Settlement | Minnesota Workers Compensation Attorney
Most settlements in workers’ compensation cases are final. However, there may be situations where circumstances have changed since the settlement. Fortunately, the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Law does allow for an injured employee to re-open, set aside, or vacate a prior agreement under limited circumstances. The primary purpose of allowing a vacation of an award is to assure compensation proportionate to the degree and duration of disability. In order to vacate a Stipulation a Petition to Vacate to Set Aside an Award be filed with the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals.
Getting a Stipulation Vacated
Minnesota Workers’ Compensation allows a Stipulation to be open for “cause.” If the injured employee wishes to have the Stipulation set aside there must be sufficient evidence to prove that “cause” exists.
Under the law, “cause” exists under the following:
- Mutual mistake of fact;
- Newly discovered evidence;
- The Award was based on fraud; or
- There was a substantial change in medical condition since the time of the Award that was not clearly anticipated and couldn’t have been reasonably anticipated at the time of the Award.
Getting a prior Award or Stipulation for Settlement set aside is no easy task. It requires preparing and filing the appropriate documents with the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals to establish “cause.” This includes making sure the appropriate medical and vocational opinions have been obtained. Inadequate support or the wrong information submitted could jeopardize a Petition to Vacate. In every case, the employee has the burden of proof to demonstrate that cause exists.
Mutual Mistake of Fact
To serve as a basis to vacate an award on stipulation, a mutual mistake of fact must involve a shared mistaken belief as to a fact material to the settlement. A mistake of only one party is not sufficient. Vacating a Stipulation on these grounds can be difficult. It is important to know what the situation was and what was known about it at the time of settlement.
Substantial Change in Condition
When looking at vacating on the grounds of a “substantial” change in condition the court looks as several factors:
- A change in diagnosis;
- A change in the employee’s ability to work;
- Additional permanent partial disability;
- The necessity of more costly and extensive medical care than initially anticipated;
- The causal relationship between the work injury covered by the settlement and the employee’s current worsened condition; and
- The contemplation of the parties at the time of the settlement.
Each of these factors will need to be weighed when determining whether a substantial change has met which was not clearly anticipated at the time of settlement. Again, it is important to have vocational and medical support for these claims.
Speak with a Minnesota Work Injury Lawyer
If you are considering whether your Stipulation could be vacated it is important to consult with an experienced lawyer who handles these types of cases so as to provide you the best opportunity if cause exists so that the Award or Stipulation can be vacated.
Our office has handled numerous Petitions to Vacate and has been quite successful in getting Stipulations for Settlement and Awards vacated on behalf of our clients who have cause to vacate. If you are interested in discussing the possibility of having a prior Stipulation for Settlement or Award re-opened, please contact our office at (855)354-2667 or fill out the contact form on our page.