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Aggravation of a Pre-Existing Condition at Work

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Posted By DAM Firm | June 14 2024 | Workers' Compensation

If we all think hard enough, we can probably think of some injury we’ve had at some point in our lives. Sometimes, our previous injuries crop back up. Aggravating a preexisting injury is more than aggravating. It can lead to significant problems, specifically if the aggravation happens at work.

Can you recover workers’ compensation benefits if an on-the-job incident aggravates a pre-existing injury? Chances are, yes, you will be able to recover compensation. However, insurance carriers or employers regularly push back against these types of claims.

Aggravation of a Pre-Existing Condition at Work

Understanding Pre-Existing Conditions and Workplace Injuries

Pre-existing conditions are medical issues that a person has before sustaining a new injury. These can include chronic conditions like arthritis, previous injuries from accidents, or illnesses that have required medical treatment. It is common for individuals to have some form of pre-existing condition, and these conditions do not disqualify them from receiving workers’ compensation if a workplace incident aggravates their condition.

How Workers’ Compensation Covers Aggravated Conditions

In California, workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance system, meaning employees are usually entitled to benefits regardless of who caused the injury. This system aims to ensure that workers receive medical care and wage replacement benefits when they are injured on the job. When a workplace incident aggravates a pre-existing condition, the employee should still be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

California law stipulates that if a work-related activity exacerbates a pre-existing condition, the employer is liable for the aggravation. This means that the workers’ compensation insurance should cover the medical treatment and wage loss resulting from the aggravated condition. However, proving that a work incident worsened a pre-existing condition can be challenging and often requires detailed medical evidence.

Challenges in Proving Aggravation of Pre-Existing Conditions

Insurance companies and employers often scrutinize claims involving pre-existing conditions. They may argue that the current symptoms are solely due to the pre-existing condition and not related to any workplace incident. To successfully claim workers’ compensation for an aggravated pre-existing condition, it is crucial to establish a clear link between the work activity and the worsening of the condition.

  • Medical documentation. Comprehensive medical records are vital. These should include documentation of the pre-existing condition before the workplace incident and detailed records after the incident showing how the condition has worsened.
  • Medical expert testimony. In many cases, obtaining a medical expert’s opinion can help establish that the workplace incident aggravated the pre-existing condition. A physician’s testimony can provide an objective assessment of the link between the work activity and the aggravated condition.
  • Accident reports and witness statements. Detailed accident reports and statements from coworkers can support your claim by providing evidence of the workplace incident and how it contributed to your injury.

Overcoming the Emotional and Physical Impact

Aggravating a pre-existing condition can be both physically painful and emotionally draining. The pain and limitations caused by the aggravated condition can affect every aspect of your life, from your ability to work to your ability to enjoy daily activities. It is important to acknowledge these challenges and seek the support you need.

Seeking Legal Assistance

Navigating a workers’ compensation claim involving a pre-existing condition can be complex and stressful. A knowledgeable work injury attorney in Riverside can provide the guidance and support you need. An attorney will help gather the necessary evidence, handle communications with the insurance company, and advocate for your right to receive full and fair compensation.

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