When injured in an accident on the job, workers’ compensation is meant to cover your medical expenses, as well as a portion of your lost wages, while you take time off to recover. If you have a pre-existing condition or previous injury, however, you may be concerned about its effect on your workers’ comp claim. A pre-existing condition should not bar you from benefits, but some companies may make the process much more difficult.
Employers may not deny employees workers’ compensation because of a condition they had before starting their job. In the context of workers’ comp, a pre-existing condition would be a previous injury or health issue that was worsened or aggravated on the job. For example, if you had a pre-existing lung problem that worsened due to exposure to chemicals in your workplace, you cannot be denied workers’ comp just because you were diagnosed with the condition beforehand.
What are some examples of pre-existing conditions?
Experienced workers’ compensation attorneys see a variety of pre-existing conditions relating to on-the-job injuries:
- Chronic back injuries that worsen after heavy lifting
- Chronic headaches made worse after a head injury incurred on the job
- Knee arthritis exacerbated by a slip or fall in the workplace
- Previous hearing loss exacerbated due to noisy work environments
- Shoulder, wrist, or knee injuries worsened by repetitive tasks
- Worsened asthma or respiratory issues from factory dust or workplace chemicals
What if my workers’ compensation claim is denied?
If you were injured in the workplace and your claim is denied due to a pre-existing condition, don’t give up. An attorney can help. You can also help build a stronger workers’ comp claim by taking the following steps:
- File a workers’ compensation claim immediately. Do not wait for your manager or supervisor to help you file your claim. Report it and file it as soon as possible. Also, do not wait to see if an injury resolves without medical attention; this can cause your claim to be delayed or denied.
- Do not attempt to hide a pre-existing condition. Concealing a pre-existing condition or illness may be grounds for the insurance company to deny or dismiss your claim.
- Get the details down. When making your claim, be specific. Describe your pain, how your work injury or environment affected it, and your pain levels and disability day-to-day. Ensure that you are consistent in your description and details with every doctor you speak to.
- Follow doctor’s orders. Deviating from your doctor’s orders could result in re-injury and the denial of your claim.
Certain workers’ compensation situations require the help of experienced legal counsel, and handling pre-existing conditions along with on-the-job injuries is one of them. An attorney can help build a strong case on your behalf, ensuring you receive the benefits to which you are entitled.