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How does a pre-existing condition impact workers’ compensation?

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2023 | Workers' Compensation

An on-the-job injury can take its toll. It can leave you with significant pain and physical limitations that make it impossible to work while you recover, and the medical expenses associated with your rehabilitative care and treatment can be enormous. This leaves many injured workers in a precarious position, threatening them with financial instability.

Although it can be incredibly stressful to be in that position, you might be able to find relief through the workers’ compensation system. Yet, navigating this process isn’t always as easy as it seems. One issue that’s commonly seen when pursuing a workers’ compensation claim is the existence of pre-existing conditions.

Why pre-existing conditions matter in your workers’ compensation case

The workers’ compensation system exists to provide financial support to those who are injured while carrying out their job duties. In many cases, though, an employer argues that the injuries claimed by a worker existed prior to the workplace accident in question. If they can succeed in showing this, then workers’ compensation benefits may be denied altogether.

Does a pre-existing condition automatically disqualify you from receiving benefits?

Not necessarily. You might be able to secure the workers’ compensation benefits that you need if you can show that your work exacerbated your pre-existing condition. This, of course, can be challenging to show, which is why you’ll probably have to turn to an expert witness for support in presenting your claim in this manner.

How can you protect your claim despite a pre-existing condition?

A pre-existing condition can throw a wrench into your workers’ compensation plans. But you might be able to limit its impact by doing the following:

  • Create a strong medical record: To increase your chances of recovering workers’ compensation benefits, you should be clear and accurate in reporting your existing condition to your medical professional. This clear record will make it easier to show how your employment has exacerbated that condition.
  • Follow your doctor’s recommendations: When seeking out care for your condition, be sure to always follow your doctor’s recommendations. This will help eliminate other causes of your worsened condition, thereby helping you argue that such exacerbation of your condition is work-related.
  • Report your worsened condition to your employer: As soon as you notice that your pre-existing condition has worsened, notify your employer. If you wait too long to make a report, then it’ll be easier for your employer to claim that the condition was exacerbated by some other activity or that the injury or illness in question simply pre-existed and hasn’t been exacerbated.
  • Keep a journal: Writing down how you feel and how your condition impacts your ability to perform daily activities and adhere to your job duties can be powerful in a workers’ compensation case. It can help show a marked difference in your pre-existing injury or illness, thereby tying it to your work, and it can help you demonstrate the extent to which your worsened condition limits your ability to work.

Know how to aggressively pursue your workers’ compensation case

Workers’ compensation benefits could be key to your financial survival as you try to recover your health. Therefore, going into the process, you should be as fully prepared as possible with strong legal arguments on your side. This will require you to understand the law, however, which can be a daunting task.

Yet, this isn’t a process that you have to face alone. There are a lot of places you can turn for support, and a lot of resources that you can utilize to find the best path forward for your claim. Hopefully by utilizing those you’ll be able to develop a legal strategy that puts you on course to recover the financial benefits that you need.