Workers’ Compensation And Pre-Existing Conditions
An injury on the job can be a devastating blow to an employee who has financial responsibilities to meet. An employee who is hurt on the job could end up in a lot of pain and be unable to work to the full extent he or she could before the injury. Fortunately, in most cases, the employee would be covered by an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy, have medical costs covered, and receive some pay while in recovery. Of course, it is possible for a workplace injury to aggravate an injury that was not work-related, and this may leave an employee wondering if they can still receive workers’ compensation. In these situations, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help.
Every state has its own workers’ compensation laws, but generally, an employee is not precluded from receiving workers’ compensation benefits under their state’s workers comp laws because of a preexisting injury. Because the temporary total disability payment an employee receives as a result of a work-related injury is calculated as a part of the employee’s gross weekly wages over a period of time, this benefit is not changed by the existence of a preexisting injury. However, the total amount of benefits the employee ultimately receives can be affected by how much of the injury is preexisting.
Note that even if the employee’s preexisting injury contributes greatly to the employee’s injury, the employee may still receive workers’ compensation benefits if his injuries arise out of his employment. For example, if an employee has a knee injury, and this causes him to trip and fall at his place of employment, the employee may nonetheless be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
An injury is said to arise out of the employment if it results from a risk that is inherent or incidental to the employment. A good way to look at it would be to ask if the injury occurred when the employee was doing a work-related task, or a task specifically assigned by the employer. In some cases, the level of degeneration or deterioration of a person’s condition can affect how the injury’s connection to a worker’s employment is determined. In some cases, if the worker’s’ condition has so deteriorated that any activity could have caused him injury, it may affect the worker’s claim of compensation from his employer.
Testimony from medical professionals is used to determine the aggravation of injuries and how a work-related injury contributed to it. An injured worker should keep additional logs or records of how their daily life is affected by an aggravated injury. This may help support the medical evidence.
If you have been injured on the job, make sure you have a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer advocating for you and protecting your right to collect benefits.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at for their insight into how a workers compensation lawyer can help.