Workers' compensation provides money for medical care when workers are injured on the job. Workers' compensation insurers can make the process complicated when a new injury aggravates an existing condition, usually by denying that the new injury is the source of new symptoms. If you're filing a claim for a new injury that makes an old injury or condition worse, you'll have to be extra clear about your symptoms and the timeline of their progression.
The Rules Are Clear: Workers' Compensation Covers Re-Aggravation of Existing Injuries
The Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) instructs insurers to regard “an injury or illness to be work-related” if it occurred on the job, even when it has “significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness.” This means, for example, that if an exposure to toxic chemicals aggravated a worker's asthma, the insurer cannot dismiss the symptoms as belonging exclusively to the existing condition. The insurer has to look at the chemical exposure as a new injury that has made the asthma symptoms worse.
How Doctors Classify the Re-Aggravation of an Injury
Any time you're hurt at work, you need to have your injuries evaluated by a medical doctor. If a new injury is making an existing condition or injury worse, it will fall to your doctor to determine which of your current symptoms are work-related and which are not.
Separating symptoms in this way can be tough when:
- You have a chronic condition, such as arthritis, that is prone to flare-ups.
- You have suffered a new injury in a part of your body where you previously suffered an injury, such as breaking the same wrist in which you've previously suffered carpal tunnel syndrome.
Communicate clearly with your doctor about the status of your symptoms before the workplace accident, the nature of the accident, and the status of your symptoms after the accident. This information will help your doctor pinpoint the exact role of the new injury and make your workers' compensation claim stronger.
Hire an Attorney to Advocate for the Benefits You Deserve
If your workplace injury is aggravating an existing condition, an experienced workers' compensation attorney can help you get the benefits you need and deserve. Call Ackerman & Falcon today for a free consultation about your workers' compensation claim at (703) 288-1400 or send us a message about your case online.