Have a Pre-Existing Condition That Was Exacerbated by an Accident? Our Fort Lauderdale Workers Comp Law Firm Can Help
Getting injured on the job can lead to lots of questions: Are you eligible to file for workers’ compensation? If so, how do you file, and how long do you have to submit your claim? What are your legal rights if your claim is denied? If you have a pre-existing condition, how does this impact your claim for benefits? Our Fort Lauderdale workers comp law firm is here to help.
As a general rule, workers’ compensation only provides coverage for job-related injuries and illnesses. However, employers are also required to take their employees as they are. So, if you have a pre-existing condition and your injury or illness is worsened as a result of something that happens at work, you can seek benefits for your resulting medical expenses and loss of income.
Employers Regularly Deny Workers’ Compensation Claims Involving Pre-Existing Medical Conditions
Unfortunately, employees who have pre-existing conditions will frequently have their workers’ compensation claims denied. Employers and their insurance companies will often claim that any symptoms are related solely to an employee’s pre-existing condition, and not to anything that may have happened at work. This is particularly common with regard to repetitive stress injuries and occupational illnesses, although employers and insurers will make these claims with regard to other types of injuries as well.
In order to avoid having your workers’ compensation claim denied – or to challenge your denial if necessary – it will be important for you to have clear medical evidence that links your current symptoms to a work-related accident or the physical stress of your job. It will also be important for you to work with an experienced Fort Lauderdale workers’ compensation attorney, as an experienced attorney will be able to anticipate and proactively address the issues that are likely to lead to a denial. With decades of experience, attorney Joseph Maus has represented numerous employees with pre-existing medical conditions, and he can use his experience to help you collect the benefits to which you are entitled under Florida law.
Florida Workers’ Comp Only Covers Medical Expenses Related to the Exacerbation or Worsening of a Pre-Existing Injury
When you file a workers’ compensation claim involving the exacerbation or worsening of a pre-existing medical condition, you are only entitled to medical benefits only for costs that are related directly to your work injury or illness. In other words, your employer does not have to pay for treatment for your underlying medical condition. This is an important distinction, and it is one that leads to disagreements between employers and employees in many cases. Once again, an experienced attorney can help, and we encourage you to contact us for more information.
Examples of How Pre-Existing Injuries Can Impact Workers’ Compensation Claims
The impact of pre-existing injuries on workers’ compensation claims is complicated, and it will vary in different scenarios. Here are a few examples of how pre-existing injuries affect – and don’t affect – injured workers’ legal rights in Florida:
Example 1: You hurt your knee several years ago. You sought treatment, and your injury fully healed. Now, you have hurt the same knee in a work-related accident. Are you entitled to workers’ compensation?
In this scenario, your pre-existing injury should not have any impact on your workers’ compensation claim. While you hurt the same knee previously, that injury had nothing to do with your current injury. Since your prior injury fully healed, all of your medical bills should be covered.
Example 2: You hurt your knee several years ago. You sought treatment, but instead of healing fully, your injury left you with limited mobility in your knee. You fell at work when you tried to step over something on the ground, but your knee wouldn’t bend far enough. Are you entitled to workers’ compensation?
This example should have the same outcome as Example 1. Even though your pre-existing injury played a role in your fall, your injury and its costs are still entirely work-related. Your employer must “take you as you are” and cannot attempt to deny coverage based on your pre-existing condition.
Example 3: This example is the same as Example 2, except you were still receiving treatment for your prior injury at the time of your fall. Are you entitled to workers’ compensation?
In this final example, your pre-existing injury will play a role in your workers’ compensation claim. Since you were already receiving treatment, your employer is not required to provide coverage for the costs you would have incurred regardless of your fall. However, the employer will have to provide coverage for your additional medical expenses. If you are unable to work as a result of your fall, you should be able to collect disability benefits.
FAQs: How Do Pre-Existing Injuries Impact Workers’ Compensation Claims in Florida?
How Do I Show That My Pre-Existing Injury is Unrelated to My Work Injury?
If your employer attempts to deny your claim based on a pre-existing injury, you may need to obtain your past medical records to prove that you are entitled to coverage. But, the circumstances surrounding your work injury could also show that your employer’s attempted denial is unwarranted. To make sure you receive the compensation you deserve, you should consult with a workers’ compensation attorney promptly.
What Are My Rights If My Employer Denies Workers’ Comp Based on a Pre-Existing Injury?
If your employer denies your claim based on a pre-existing injury, you may have the right to file an appeal. Here, too, you will need to consult with a workers’ comp attorney to make sure you effectively assert your rights.
Can an Attorney Help Me File for Workers’ Comp if I Have a Pre-Existing Injury?
An attorney can help you file for workers’ comp if you are entitled to benefits. Your workers’ compensation attorney will need to evaluate your personal circumstances to determine how much you are entitled to recover, and then he or she will be able to file an appropriate claim on your behalf.
Contact Maus Law Today, a Fort Lauderdale Workers Comp Law Firm
Do you need to seek workers’ compensation benefits for an injury or illness related to a pre-existing medical condition? If so, we can help. For a free and confidential consultation with Fort Lauderdale workers’ compensation attorney Joseph Maus, call us at 855-999-5297 or request an appointment online today.