Will Pre-Existing Conditions Affect My Worker’s Comp Claim?

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Will Pre-Existing Conditions Affect My Worker’s Comp Claim?

Will Pre-Existing Conditions Affect My Worker's Comp Claim?

It can be difficult to deal with workplace injuries. You have to figure out how to get your health back in order, and you do not want to miss any unnecessary days’ worth of wages. Fortunately, legal recourse is available. If you were injured on the job during work hours, you may be entitled to file for worker’s compensation benefits. However, worker’s compensation claims can become infinitely more complex when pre-existing conditions are involved.

It is not uncommon for workplace accidents to aggravate pre-existing injuries. If this happens to you, you will want to have a wealth of medical evidence on your side. Make sure that your pre-existing condition does not affect the worker’s compensation benefits you receive. Do you know what to do if your workplace accident impacts your pre-existing injuries?

Pre-Existing Conditions Are More Common Than You Think

In most states, your employer will only be responsible for any injuries that were sustained or worsened as a direct result of your workplace accident. Therefore, your worker’s compensation benefits may be impacted if your accident is directly related to your pre-existing injuries. Pre-existing conditions are not always major. You may even have a pre-existing condition without being aware of it. In fact, any of the following may be considered a pre-existing condition:

  • Broken bones
  • Chronic illnesses (especially if they cause arthritis, pain, or any type of immunodeficiency)
  • Neck pain
  • Nerve damage
  • Previous surgeries
  • Scoliosis
  • TMJ disorder

It is important to remember that this list is not exhaustive, and that you may have suffered from any number of other pre-existing injuries. Fortunately, this simple fact is not enough to disqualify you from receiving the worker’s compensation benefits you deserve. You should never try to lie about or cover up any pre-existing conditions–even if you feel like your old injury has been completely healed or is totally irrelevant now. This can only hurt your case. Be honest with both your physician and attorney. The more information they know, the more they can help you.

Pre-Existing Conditions From Prior Worker’s Compensation Claims

If your workplace injury renders you unable to work, your employer will be legally obligated Will Pre-Existing Conditions Affect My Worker's Comp Claim?to pay you temporary disability benefits. These may also be known as time-loss compensation benefits. However, if you have suffered a similar workplace accident previously, your current worker’s compensation claim may be reduced slightly. This is in order to account for the prior worker’s compensation benefits you had received before. Not to worry, however–your employer will still need to pay for any medical expenses related to your new injury. 

Furthermore, your permanent disability benefits may change by the time your claim closes. It is also likely that the only compensation you receive will be for the increase in any permanent impairment you have suffered due to the new workplace accident (if you have suffered any at all). You will not receive any disability awards if you have not become further impaired.

If this is difficult to understand, it may help to consider a hypothetical situation. Imagine that you received $8,000 in a previous worker’s compensation claim. After your most recent workplace accident, you go to see the doctor. He then determines that you have become permanently impaired. His professional opinion is that your impairment entitles you for a $10,000 settlement. However, since you had already received $8,000 before, you will only receive $2,000 as a result of your most recent worker’s compensation claim.

Pre-Existing Conditions From Other Accidents

Of course, not every pre-existing condition stems from earlier workplace accidents. Personal injury can happen anytime and anywhere. In any case, it is likely that you will only receive worker’s compensation benefits for the accident’s exacerbation of your condition. The extent to which your workplace accident has worsened your pre-existing conditions, if they have at all, will be determined by your doctor.

The physician will also have to keep records of whether or not this worsening of your injuries is temporary or permanent, if it is even present at all. It is very important that you see the right doctor for your condition. Make sure that your physician is experienced in treating the specific types of injuries and accidents you have suffered, and that they know how to deal with worker’s compensation claims. Depending on the state you live in, your employer may require you to see a specific doctor. If this is the case for you, you can rest easy knowing that your physician will be experienced in dealing with similar cases.

Unrelated Pre-Existing Conditions

Of course, it is also possible that you have a pre-existing condition that is not directly related to your most recent workplace injury. For instance, you may have a history of back problems. Your most recent workplace accident has caused you to break your leg. What happens then?

The answer is simple: Your employer will still be held liable for any medical expenses relating to your workplace injury. In fact, your pre-existing condition may have little to no significance on your claim at all. You should be able to rely on your private health insurance for any treatment you need for your pre-existing condition. This may mean that you have to see multiple healthcare providers. This may feel inconvenient, but it may be the best way for you to minimize your out-of-pocket costs.

However, this is not always the case. For example, if the combination of your pre-existing condition and workplace injury results in total and permanent disability, you may want to discuss pension options with an attorney.

Seeking Legal Help

If you or a loved one have recently been injured in a workplace accident, we at Injury Victim Law may be able to help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to assist personal injury victims all across the country. You should never have to pay for someone else’s mistakes. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our experienced nationwide worker’s compensation attorneys. We have helped countless clients resolve their cases successfully. We can help you, too. Let us fight for you and get you the compensation you rightfully deserve.

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