Understanding Workers' Compensation and Pre-Existing Conditions
Some on-the-job injuries occur quickly, causing harm to the affected worker in a matter of seconds. Other work injuries cannot be attributed to one accident, but are the result of long term wear-and-tear that contributes to injury or illness. Sometimes, the impact of a strenuous job can aggravate a health condition an employee was already living with, such as chronic pain or asthma. In these situations, a pre-existing condition can complicate the workers’ compensation claims process.
What Is Considered a Pre-Existing Injury?
Pre-existing conditions are physical ailments that were present in an individual prior to them suffering their current injury at work. This can include anything from back or disc injuries to arthritis. When these injuries or aggravated or somehow related to another injury sustained at work, they can directly influence your workers' compensation benefits.
Are Pre-Existing Conditions Covered Under Workers' Comp?
It is possible to recover workers’ compensation benefits for the aggravation of a pre-existing condition. If your work environment directly contributed to the worsening of an ailment you had before working there, the aggravation would count as a work-related condition and would entitle you to compensation. The difficulty lies in being able to prove that your condition worsened because of your work environment.
How Do You Prove a Pre-Existing Injury?
In a typical workers’ compensation case, proving the cause of an injury is generally not difficult: You were not injured, an accident occurred at your place of work, and now you are injured. It is usually simple to prove a cause and effect relationship in these cases, but proving that an existing condition was aggravated is a little more difficult.
First, you will need substantive medical evidence that proves that your ailment got worse.
If you are living with a condition like chronic pain, you may already be visiting the doctor frequently to manage your condition — your past medical appointments will provide evidence on the documentation of your injury.
If the aggravation was caused by a one-time accident, evidence of when the accident occurred in conjunction with the worsening of your condition can help establish proof that the injury is work-related.
Otherwise, such as in cases of long-term strain, your doctor can provide an expert opinion on how the nature of your job aggravated your condition.
When Are Pre-Existing Conditions NOT Covered?
Pre-existing medical conditions can also hinder workers’ compensation claims if an employer and their insurance provider believe the employee is attempting to attribute their pre-existing condition to a work accident. It is important to specify how your job affected your health. At McHargue & Jones, LLC, our lawyers can protect your rights during workers’ compensation disputes.
Is It Legal to Deny a Workers' Comp Claim On the Basis of a Pre-Existing Condition?
While claims made in an attempt to obtain compensation for a pre-existing injury will not be covered by workers' compensation, workers still may have the right to obtain compensation for pre-existing injuries that were aggravated or made worse by their current work. Determining where your case falls within these guidelines can be complicated, which is why having a professional work injury lawyer on your side can mean the difference between receiving benefits and having your claim denied.
The attorneys of McHargue & Jones, LLC represent the rights of workers who were harmed on the job. If you are injured because of your employment, workers’ compensation benefits are your right. Contact us today to discover your options.
Schedule a free consultation through our contact form or by calling (312) 739-0000.