Some worker’s compensation claims are not very straightforward. This is particularly true when you have a pre-existing injury or illness that is impacted by your current injury or illness. Any condition that you have that predates your workplace injury could impact any worker’s comp benefits that you may be entitled to receive. If the pre-existing condition is intertwined with your worker’s compensation claim (medically related) it could have a significant impact.
For example, say you have arthritis in your wrist and you injure that wrist at work. This will impact your benefits more significantly than if you had rotator cuff surgery and now have an injury to your wrist that occurred at work.
In New York, your employer is only responsible for how the workplace injury worsened your pre-existing condition. In order to avoid paying, your employer is likely to attempt to gather evidence that proves any injury or impairment that you have is not due to the workplace injury but is the direct result of your pre-existing condition.
Aggravation of a Pre-Existing Condition
If you have a pre-existing condition and your job or work environment makes it worse you could be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits. It doesn’t matter if the pre-existing condition was caused by an earlier worker’s compensation injury or a disability that you have, under New York law, you could be eligible for benefits if your condition is aggravated while you are performing your job.
It isn’t easy though. These types of worker’s compensation claims tend to be highly contested. It is often recommended that individuals who are going to pursue compensation under these terms should seek legal counsel. A competent, experienced attorney can help you get the compensation that you deserve.
You should also enlist the help of your doctor. A physician can help you distinguish between aggravation of an old injury that is work related and a new injury that happens to occur in the same spot. Talk to your doctor about any injuries you’ve had prior to the current workplace injury. If you can, give your doctor your medical records that are related to the earlier worker’s compensation claim. From there, your doctor can determine if your condition stems from your earlier injury or if it is new, yet still related to the old injury.
The difference between these two states is very important and could make a difference in benefits as well as how the case is reviewed and approved. Your doctor can provide you with the appropriate documentation to help you.
Pre-Existing Condition Not Related to an Earlier Worker’s Compensation Claim
Many times an employee will have a pre-existing condition that is not related to work at all. It may be due to aging or from a previous injury, like an automobile accident. While this condition is not caused by your work situation, it is made worse by it. Any worker’s compensation benefits you receive would only be related to how your condition has worsened and how it can be attributed to your new workplace injury.
Your physician will make the determination of whether your workplace injury worsened your previous injury or not. You will need to provide your doctor with the relevant medical records that pertain to your injury. He or she will then document in your records whether the worsening of your condition is permanent or temporary. If you feel that your pre-existing condition was made worse because of a workplace injury, then it would be in your best interest to find a doctor who treats injured workers on a regular basis. These doctors know how to document the cases, using the right terminology and phrases that are necessary to a worker’s compensation claim.
Pre-existing Condition that is Unrelated
A pre-existing condition that has absolutely nothing to do with your new workplace related injury will have no impact on your worker’s compensation case. Your medical bills and expenses for the new injury will be paid by your current employer. Additionally, you may be required to see a doctor that the insurance carrier chooses which could mean you have to see two doctors. Although seeing one doctor for your pre-existing condition and another for your new injury may seem difficult, the fact that you will pay little, if any, out of pocket costs makes it worthwhile.
In the event you are considered for a total and permanent disability status a condition that is unrelated buy pre-existing could come into play. If your former injury and your new injury combined render you totally and permanently disabled, it could impact your options for any type of payments or compensation.
It is best to leave these types of cases for attorneys to manage. If you have been injured at work but have a pre-existing condition, you need to talk to a worker’s compensation attorney right away. Call Paul Giannetti Attorney at Law and let us start helping you today.