Many people have pre-existing conditions that already cause them grief. When they incur an injury at work, it can exacerbate these conditions.
While construction workers are often the most prone to injuries on the job, workers in any profession can suffer an injury. Workers’ compensation can help you cover your medical expenses and replace a portion of your lost wages. However, when you have a pre-existing condition, it can be a bit more complicated.
What Is Considered a Pre-Existing Condition?
Pre-existing conditions refer to any type of injury or illness that you’ve had officially diagnosed, even if it was detected before you began working at your current employer. These conditions tend to be long-term or recur with regularity, such as arthritis, cancer, carpal tunnel syndrome, and prior injuries to the knee or back, to name a few.
If you were previously diagnosed with another condition that you think was aggravated by your new injury at work, you may be able to seek workers’ compensation benefits. Since it will be more complex, you will likely want to speak with an attorney for workers’ compensation to learn more about your legal rights.
1-800-Injured is a lawyer and medical referral service. We can help you find professionals in your area to assist you.
What to Know About Workers’ Comp and Pre-Existing Conditions
In Florida, you can still get workers’ comp benefits when you have a new work injury that causes a pre-existing illness, condition, or injury to worsen. However, it’s not always easy to obtain these benefits when you have a pre-existing condition.
If you had a pre-existing condition diagnosed that was unrelated to your work and a work accident occurred that made your condition worse, you can file for benefits. These would help you manage your accident-related injury and the now-exacerbated pre-existing condition. In situations where a pre-existing condition occurred at another workplace and you were re-injured in the same way at your new job, you can also receive benefits — though they may be reduced.
Sometimes, pre-existing conditions are not affected by a new accident on the job. If that’s the case, you can only recover compensation related to your medical bills that arise from the work injury and your applicable salary benefits. You would not get anything for your pre-existing condition in this scenario.
It is important that every employee understands that a pre-existing condition does not make you exempt from filing a workers’ compensation claim. Likewise, it may take some extra steps to ensure your application for these benefits goes smoothly.
How to Lessen the Chances of Issues with Workers’ Comp Benefits When You Have a Pre-Existing Injury
The first step is to have your pre-existing condition and your new injury thoroughly documented by a medical professional. You will need to make sure you are following the claims process as well, or it could result in a delay or even denial of your benefits.
Getting medical attention is imperative, as is reporting the work accident and injury to your employer in writing. This must be done within 30 days of the accident, and your employer must then submit this to their workers’ comp insurer. You must also go to a doctor that is on the list provided by the workers’ comp insurance company. However, any documentation from your initial physician visit is important for evidence.
Be sure that you follow all medical advice provided to you for your recovery. If you don’t do this, you could be denied your benefits. Keep in mind that the insurer providing workers’ comp benefits at your job may also ask you to see another physician to conduct an independent examination. Failing to follow through will generally result in a denial of your claim.
Florida law requires you to prove that at least 51% of your current condition was the result of your most recent injury at work. If that can be shown, you will be covered. It can be exhausting to prove, which is why having a lawyer can be beneficial in these situations. They are especially helpful when you experience a denial, requiring the need to appeal to get the benefits you deserve.