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Can a Pre-Existing Injury Affect My Workers’ Compensation Claim?

On Behalf of | Nov 30, 2020 | Firm News

Injured employees are able to collect Workers’ Compensation benefits after workplace accidents. Many injury claims are processed without any issues, but one situation that may cause a problem is when a worker has a pre-existing injury. In some cases, a pre-existing injury makes it difficult for a claimant to prove that a new work injury is compensable. If an injury predates the current Workers’ Compensation claim, a worker should hire an experienced lawyer to help them with their case.

Why Does a Pre-Existing Injury Affect a Workers’ Compensation Case?

One of the most substantial distinctions that determine if a pre-existing condition will influence coverage for a new claim has to do with whether or not the new injury concerns the same body part. For example, an employee who injured their shoulder at home would not be denied benefits for a work-related diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome. However, an employee who is being treated for an off-the-clock shoulder injury may have trouble proving that work-related tasks injured their shoulder.

How are Benefits Affected by Pre-Existing Injuries?

Workers’ Compensation is a program that pays for medical treatment or lost wages that stem from work accidents. When it is unclear that a work task caused an injury, it can be difficult to prove what amount of coverage is warranted.

While it is plausible that a secondary injury aggravated the pre-existing injury, how benefits will be affected is a major concern. Workers’ Compensation benefits may be affected by how much the work accident contributed to the injury, which is especially significant in temporary or permanent disability cases. There will be different treatment requirements and healing time for each injury. How much each work accident contributed to the injury will affect compensation for a disability.

Aggravating a Pre-Existing Injury

The distinction between aggravating a pre-existing injury and the pre-existence of an unrelated condition makes a huge difference. When a new work injury compounds an already problematic pre-existing condition, the combined result may indicate that the employee is unable to work. This could result in a temporary or permanent disability claim.

What if My Pre-Existing Condition is Related to a Prior Work Accident?

When pre-existing injuries stem from previous work accidents, injured employees may have to navigate the system to receive benefits for two separate claims. If the new injury aggravated an existing injury, the benefits for the secondary claim will likely be affected. The amount of benefits received from the first claim will be considered in the new case.

Contrarily, if the new claim involves a separate injury, the worker may be eligible for more significant benefits unmitigated by the original claim. The payout of the new injury would not be significantly affected by the previous injury. If a hurt worker has a secondary injury, they should consult a lawyer to be sure they pursue the right type of claim.

Should I See a Doctor That Specializes in Work-Related Injuries?

Seeing a doctor who is familiar with work injuries may help one’s case. Proving a case may come down to diligent documentation that outlines the original injury and the subsequent effects of the secondary injury. A doctor familiar with Workers’ Compensation cases will be able to use the proper descriptions and terminology to address all issues. Some employers may require workers to see doctors chosen by them.

Will I Have to See More Than One Doctor for My Work Injury?

It is possible that an injured worker will have to keep separate appointments to treat ongoing issues related to each injury. Workers’ Compensation benefits will cover the appointments related to the work injury, while an unrelated injury will be covered through an employer’s private health insurance.

If an employee has a work-related injury, they deserve Workers’ Compensation benefits from their employer. If a pre-existing injury is complicating their case, they should speak to a lawyer about their benefits.

Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. Help Workers with Pre-Existing Injuries

Our Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. help injured workers with their complicated work injury cases. We understand that pre-existing injuries complicate benefits, and we will fight hard to protect your rights. Call us at 412-765-1888 or complete our online form for a free consultation. Located in Pittsburgh, we serve clients throughout western Pennsylvania, including Allegheny County, Lawrence County, and Washington County.