One common concern workers have when they're injured at work is how any pre-existing condition might affect the case. If you're considering filing a claim under your company's worker's compensation coverage but you have a pre-existing condition of some kind, that doesn't mean you're automatically out of luck. It does mean, however, that you should work with a worker's compensation attorney to file your claim so that you can be sure you're getting the benefits you deserve without having to worry about your past medical history. Here are some things you should know about pre-existing conditions and worker's compensation.
A lot of people have pre-existing conditions. In fact, if you have diabetes, are overweight, or even have asthma, all of these things could be considered pre-existing conditions. A sprained ankle or a broken wrist as a child could also be considered as such. If you're older and have hypertension or even high cholesterol, any of those things may be classified as a pre-existing condition. With one in five adults having cholesterol levels over 200 mg/dL, if every adult with a pre-existing condition was banned from worker's compensation coverage, there'd be little in the way of benefits ever awarded.
Having a pre-existing condition may make the claim harder to prove. While you aren't prohibited from worker's compensation if you have a pre-existing condition, you will have to prove that your job aggravated or accelerated the symptoms of your pre-existing condition in order to get those benefits. Otherwise, that pre-existing condition can serve as the basis of a denial of benefits.
Your doctor will play a key role in your case presentation. You'll need medical documentation of the severity of your symptoms so that you can show clear evidence that your job has made the condition worse or led to other complications. Your doctor can show x-rays, lab tests and other assessments that clearly illustrate how your job was responsible.
There are several questions your attorney may ask. These questions are designed to help you formulate a complete and reasonable case. Some of the questions you can expect include:
- Did you experience problems with your pre-existing condition before you were injured at work? This is an important question, because showing no symptoms at all before your injury can clearly tie the problem to your injury.
- Did you experience worsening pain and symptoms after the injury? This may show that, even if your condition bothered you, it wasn't bothering you as badly before your injury.
- During the injury or immediately after it, did you notice any odd sounds (such as cracking) or feel any abnormal feelings from the area affected by your pre-existing condition? This can help to identify how the injury affected your pre-existing condition.
- Has the area affected by the pre-existing condition experienced other pain since your injury occurred? This may show that the injury directly affected your pre-existing condition.
- Has your range of motion been further limited since the injury? This is another key factor in connecting the injury itself to your worsening symptoms.
You should be eligible for benefits even if your pre-existing condition makes you more vulnerable to injury. For example, if you have a condition that causes low muscle tone and you're injured when a box falls off a shelf and you have to catch it, you'll still be able to file for worker's compensation despite the fact that someone without your condition may not have suffered any injury at all in that situation.
Don't let your worries about your pre-existing condition keep you from getting the benefits that you are entitled to under worker's compensation coverage. If you've been injured at work in any way, you should reach out to a worker's compensation attorney at a law office like Shaw Leslie Law Office to help you draft your claim. He or she can help you address your pre-existing condition properly to reduce your chances of a claim denial.