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Exacerbation and aggravation in a worker’s compensation claim

On Behalf of | Oct 17, 2022 | Workers' Compensation

Getting into an accident at work can leave you laid up for weeks or months at a time. If it’s serious enough it can stop you from working altogether. 

If you suffer an injury at work you are entitled to make a claim for worker’s compensation under Pennsylvania law. Workers who already have a pre-existing injury or medical condition, however, may wonder if they can still claim those benefits when an accident makes their condition suddenly worse.

If this happens to you, can you still make a claim? If so, will it affect what compensation you may be entitled to receive?

What do exacerbation and aggravation mean?

A pre-existing condition means that it’s something you had before the accident happened. For many people, this may involve ailments such as a bad back or knees and includes degenerative diseases. 

Both exacerbation and aggravation are terms that are sometimes used interchangeably but do in fact have different meanings where an injury is concernedThe term exacerbation is used to refer to a pre-existing illness or injury that has been worsened temporarily. For example, it might cause a flare-up of a back or knee injury that does eventually subside. Aggravation is more serious and is used where there has been a permanent worsening of an illness or injury as a result of the accident. 

Can you still make a claim for worker’s compensation?

In many cases, workers are still entitled to make a claim if their pre-existing condition or injury has been worsened as a direct result of an on-the-job accident.

Employers and their insurers will often try to defend the claim by saying that there is no evidence to prove the condition has been worsened or that, if it has, there’s no proof it’s as a result of the accident.  Attending the doctor or hospital after the accident is important in these cases to make sure there is documentation of the injury and what damage has been done. 

In this case, having experienced legal guidance while pursuing your worker’s compensation claim will help. They will make sure you have the right evidence in place to prove the claim and fight for compensation for you.