If you are injured in a workplace accident, and you have a preexisting injury, you are entitled to compensation just like other victims without preexisting injuries. However, there might be a few legal conditions for your compensation. For example, depending on your jurisdiction, you might only be compensated if:
Your Work Has Aggravated Your Prior Injuries
In most states, employers are required to hire employees on an "as is" basis, so to speak. For example, if you are hired with a back pain, the employer is responsible for any injuries that might occur due to your back pain. However, this is only the case if you suffer an aggravation or re-injury due to your work. Don't expect to be compensated for a preexisting injury if it hasn't been made worse by your work.
Consider the example of two employees hired with back pain. Suppose one of them engages in lifting heavy boxes that end up aggravating their back pain while the other only has to deal with the injury they had at the time of their hiring. In such a case, it is only the employee with the aggravated back injury that is entitled to compensation.
You Followed the Doctor's Orders
You need to prove that you followed your doctor's recommendations to the letter to show that your actions or inaction didn't contribute to your injury. This includes abstaining from works restricted by your doctor.
For example, if you have back pain, and you have been advised not to carry heavy boxes, then you shouldn't carry them. In such a case, your employer has the right to deny your claim if you carry heavy items and end up aggravating your back pain. Examples of further advice you may receive from your doctor, depending on your injury, include:
Your Preexisting Injury Is Work-Related
In a few jurisdictions, you only get compensation for aggravated injury if the preexisting injury was also caused by a work accident. For example, you shouldn't expect compensation (in those states) if you injured yourself while playing with your kids at home. However, you deserve compensation if you experienced a simple arm fracture after slipping and falling in the office, which later turned into a compound fracture when a box fell on you.
Many workers handle workers compensation claims without the involvement of lawyers. However, claims involving preexisting injuries might be complicated, so it's best to have a lawyer--such as one from Gilbert, Blaszcyk & Milburn LLP--help you with the process.
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