If you have a preexisting injury or have been hurt again since your injury at work, it’s important to be prepared to carefully protect your rights as you pursue compensation for what happened. Your employer cannot deny your worker’s compensation benefits for either of these conditions, but many companies will take advantage of workers who aren’t aware of their rights. No matter where you work, here are some things you should know about preexisting injuries and intervening injuries.
A preexisting injury is an injury that happened before you started your job. For example, if you broke your shoulder years ago playing football, that could be a preexisting injury.
Many companies will refuse to take responsibility for injuries that happen on the job if they can—and if they discover you had an injury before the accident, they may use it as an excuse to deny compensation. However, a preexisting condition does not disqualify you from getting worker’s compensation or suing an employer for negligence in causing a new injury.
The reality on pre-existing conditions is this: state laws dictate what types of pre-existing conditions will be allowed in a personal injury case. There are rules that must be followed. If the prior condition has nothing to do with your current condition or injuries, then a judge won’t allow it in the case. On the other hand, if you had a prior condition to the same body part or had a similar injury in the past, then most likely that condition will be allowed in the case.
Generally, if it can be proven that your employer was responsible for an injury that caused medical issues that would not have otherwise been aggravated, you can still recover damages. In some cases, it may even be proven that the underlying condition and new injury are unrelated, and that you should receive full compensation despite the pre-existing condition. However, because so many workers are unaware of their rights and the tricks of the insurance trade, it is very important that you speak with an attorney of your choosing about the details of your case, your rights, and how to be successful with your claim. You should discuss matters related to past injuries and pre-existing conditions the first time you meet your attorney.
An intervening injury happens when a worker is already hurt from a workplace injury and then another work injury aggravates the previous injury. One common cause of intervening injuries is returning to work too soon after an injury. Some employers pressure workers who are not fully healed to return to work, but doing so could seriously impact the worker’s recovery. The consequences could even be permanent. An intervening injury may also be caused by injury treatment, such as physical therapy or repeated surgeries, or a second accident.
Although you may have expected that your employer would be on your side if you were ever hurt on the clock, the reality is that a lot of workers have to fight for the help they deserve. Whether your job made your preexisting condition worse or injured you outright, you deserve fair compensation for your suffering.