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Pre Existing Injuries in Florida Workers Compensation Claims

A Look at Florida’s Major Contributing Cause Rule

            Like many other states, Florida makes a good faith effort to provide injured workers with all of the medical and financial benefits they are entitled to receive. However, the law can become rather complicated since some workers may already suffer from pre-existing illnesses and disabilities prior to incurring a serious workplace injury.    When such issues are involved in a Florida worker’s compensation case, the injured party’s attorney must confront an insurance company that’s eager to save money whenever it believes it can get away with it.

Florida Worker’s Compensation “Major Contributing Cause” Statute

Florida Statute Chapter 440 states in pertinent part that “a major contributing cause” to a worker’s compensation (WC) injury is a cause that “is more than 50 percent responsible for the injury as compared to all other causes combined for which treatment or benefits are sought.” It further states that when cases are filed “involving occupational disease or repetitive exposure, both causation and sufficient exposure to support causation must be proven by clear and convincing evidence. Pain or other subjective complaints alone, in the absence of objective relevant medical findings, are not compensable.”

The basic gist of this statute is that claimant’s counsel and all examining doctors must find a way to objectively analyze each case mathematically. While this may seem like a “fair” requirement, it can jeopardize the most important goal of all – helping an injured worker heal and return to work in an appropriate position.

How Doctors and Lawyers Must Proceed While Interpreting This Law

Although this WC statute clearly seeks to obtain a fair and objective result, no one can fully know what may happen with each individual case until all diagnostic test results have been reviewed and all physical examinations have been completed by various experts.   It is during these complex stages that a claimant truly needs a knowledgeable Florida worker’s compensation attorney advocating on his or her behalf. Should necessary and justifiable benefits be denied at some stage of the claim process, an attorney well versed in WC issues should know how to work closely with a claimant’s doctors.  Sometimes, additional tests or exams can help provide a more accurate understanding of a claim’s legitimacy.

Apportionment Issues

Frequently, apportionment issues become central to many cases. Your Florida workers comp attorney will often argue that the facts of your case justify a finding that all of your current injuries are 100% due to your recent on-the-job accident (or ongoing exposure to harmful substances or environments).   Your workers compensation lawyer can also remind the insurance company that you were working pain free” prior to your most recent work-related injury, so any of your prior conditions or disabilities are currently irrelevant to your present claim.

If you’ve suffered a serious worker’s compensation injury, contact the Maus Law Firm to learn more about your rights.  The Maus Law Firm has offices in Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach and the Florida Keys, and handles accident and injury claims throughout Miami-Dade, Monroe, Collier, Lee, Broward and Palm Beach counties.  You’ll need the help of an experienced South Florida worker’s compensation attorney on your side. Call Toll Free today at: (855) 999-LAWS, or locally at (954) 784-6310.