GETTING WORKERS’ COMPENSATION FOR PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS
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You don’t have to worry about filing a workers’ compensation claim for a new injury because your employer will still pay your medical expenses and lost wages. However, your benefits will be impacted. They will be more impacted if the pre-existing condition was diagnosed prior to the new injury than someone who doesn’t have a pre-existing condition to the same body part that you had injured. Also, if you have filed a workers’ compensation claim in the past for the same injury, this may cause a reduction in benefits. The doctor will determine the amount of compensation for the new injury by deducting the monetary compensation award for the new claim for what was awarded in the previous claim.
Your Pre-Existing Condition is Not Work Related
If you have a pre-existing work condition that was not the result of a work injury and you injured that body part on the job, you can still file a claim because your job duties made the condition worse. You will receive compensation for only the increase in permanent impairment.
New Injury vs. Old Injury
Many workers wonder how the new injury will be perceived by their employer and by a jury. The burden of proof is on the claimant. He or she must establish how much worse a pre-existing condition was made from performing job duties and/or from the new injury. An insurance adjuster will go through everything (i.e. old medical records) looking for discrepancies and false statements to have your claim denied. Also, if you ignore your doctor’s orders to not perform a particular job duty or go back to your old job, your claim can be denied.
The majority of pre-existing conditions affect the back, shoulders and wrists. The “but for” rule is one many lawyers often use in proving that the pre-existing condition would not have been aggravated “but for” performing a job duty. For example, you had tendonitis in your right elbow four years ago and haven’t had a flare up until today, when you were stocking products on a shelf in the warehouse. The pre-existing condition would not have re-manifested itself “but for” stocking the products on high shelves.
Discussing the Pre-Existing Injury with a New Doctor
When you have filed a claim, you will be appointed a doctor for treatment. You need to tell the doctor about your pre-existing condition first. You must differentiate the pain between the pre-existing condition and the new injury. And, tell the doctor how the new pain is affecting your daily life and your job. Please answer the doctor’s questions to the best of your ability.
Pre-Existing Workers’ Compensation Claims Can Be Difficult
Before you file a claim, you should consult a workers’ compensation lawyer. The lawyer will have the necessary experience to make sure the paperwork is filled out correctly, especially if you have filed a claim in the past. You don’t want to lose any benefits or rights.
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