Can I File a Claim if My Previous Injury Was Aggravated by My Current Job?
No one wants to get injured at work. Injuries can be detrimental to a person’s finances, drowning them in high medical debt without a consistent source of income. As a construction accident lawyer in New Jersey from a firm like Rispoli & Borneo P.C. can explain, without that income, many employees would return to work before their bodies could heal.
Workers’ compensation insurance gives employees a way to recoup their financial losses while taking the time to recover. But what if your job has aggravated a pre-existing condition?
Is Your Employer Still Liable for Your Injury?
The short answer here is yes. When an employer hires a worker, they agree to hire them “as is.” That is, they agree that they are hiring the worker even if they have pre-existing conditions and limitations.
The long answer is that your employer’s insurance may still try to deny your claim. According to the laws that govern most states’ workers’ compensation, any workplace activity that reinjures or aggravates a pre-existing condition or injury is covered. An employee with osteoporosis who breaks a bone after tripping at work would be covered by workers’ comp.
In some cases, your employer and their insurance company may make the argument that your injury was due to your pre-existing condition and not the job. And some states have laws that flat out deny workers’ comp claims if the pre-existing condition is the cause. This is typically seen in injury cases caused by repetitive movements, such as spine injuries where an employee who bends to lift heavy boxes is putting excess strain on a herniated disc. Employers may claim that these injuries would have happened without the repeated movement from their job.
What if You Re-injure an Injury You’ve Already Claimed?
Say you were injured at a previous job and were awarded workers’ comp benefits to cover your medical costs, recovered, and later found a new job at a new company. After a time at your new job, your injury returns despite your previous recovery. Unfortunately, your new employer would not be liable for the recurrence of the old injury.
While other pre-existing injury claims would be awarded, in this case, you would be required to reopen the previous workers’ compensation claim. This process can be difficult as there is typically a limit to how long you have to formally request that your previous workers’ compensation is reopened.
The takeaway here is that you should seek a workers’ compensation claim regardless of whether or not you’ve had a prior injury. While insurance companies may initially deny your claim, a well-documented case may get you the benefits you deserve. Seek an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer today to see how they can help.