If you are injured at work, you are eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits, which will cover the costs associated with your injury. However, if you have a pre-existing condition, it could make your Workers’ Compensation claim complicated. This is especially true if your pre-existing condition is related to your workplace injury. Your employer is responsible only for the injury that occurred at work. If your pre-existing injury affects the same body part that was injured at work, it might be hard to prove that the injury was work-related. An experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer will work with you and fight for you to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
For example, if you injured your shoulder in a previous workplace accident, and you injured the same shoulder at your current job, the benefits you will be entitled to for the new injury will be minimally reduced to account for your previous Workers’ Compensation claim. Your employer will be responsible for paying for the medical costs, including temporary disability benefits, associated with your new shoulder injury. However, it is important to understand that your permanent disability benefits may cover only the increase in permanent impairment. An example would be if you are eligible for a $20,000 permanent impairment award, but you received $18,000 from a previous award, you will likely only receive $2,000 for your new claim.
Aggravated Injury versus Previous Work-Related Injury
If the injury affected a body part that had been injured in a previous work accident, tell your doctor about both injuries and provide a copy of your medical records from the previous claim. Your doctor will review this information and determine whether the most recent injury is an aggravated injury or a new, but related injury. From a Workers’ Compensation perspective, this is an important distinction because you will need to fill out different paperwork, depending on the type of injury.
In certain cases, an existing injury may have little to no impact on a Workers’ Compensation claim. For example, if you dislocated your knee at a previous job, this would likely have no bearing on your current claim if your injury involved another body part. You may be required to see multiple providers so that you can continue to collect compensation for both injuries. If the previous injury and the current one prevent you from being able to return to work, either temporarily or permanently, your employer will have to determine your eligibility for a pension. A skilled Workers’ Compensation lawyer can assist you with these matters and ensure that you receive the benefits to which you are entitled.