A pre-existing medical condition complicates matters when it comes to payment for a current work-related injury. Compensation will likely be reduced because of the pre-existing condition. Thankfully, our workers compensation lawyers are available to answer these and other important questions.
Is the current injury related to a prior workers’ comp injury? If so, then your employer must still cover your medical expenses and pay you for time lost from work. If the new injury aggravated the prior condition permanently, however, then workers comp pays only the amount of the additional impairment. For that reason, using the same doctor you had for your original claim would be ideal (in order to accurately assess the additional degree of impairment). In any case, provide your doctor with documentation of your prior claim so that (s)he can determine whether it is a continuation of the earlier injury or a new, but related injury.
Is the current injury related to a pre-existing condition (but not to any prior workers comp claim)? If so, then, as with the first question, your employer must still cover all medical expenses related to the new injury and pay you for time lost from work. Again, if there is permanent impairment/disability resulting from the new injury, your employer pays only for the increased amount of impairment. If you are unable to use your original doctor, then look for a doctor well-versed in workers compensation claims to maximize effectively the handling of your claim. One caveat, however–if your injury occurred performing a task that went against explicit doctor’s orders, then your claim would likely be denied.
Does another unrelated pre-existing condition prevent you from returning to work? If you are unable to return to work because of a pre-existing condition unrelated to the job or an on the job injury, that condition will not qualify you for any additional workers compensation benefits. Your best option here would be to about your employer’s pension or long-term disability plans or to apply Social Security disability benefits. Our attorneys can assist you in ensuring you get your disability questions answered and benefits met.
Regardless of your circumstance, you have rights and your employer must compensate you fairly under its workers compensation insurance. A qualified attorney can work with your employer or, if necessary, the workers’ comp commission, to get the compensation you deserve. You may contact us at any time.