When you’re injured at work, it can sometimes be tricky to get the coverage you deserve. But when your injury compounds an old one—making a preexisting condition worse—it’s even more challenging.
For the purposes of workers’ comp, a preexisting condition is an illness or injury you had before your workplace injury took place. This often means residual problems from earlier injuries, like soft-tissue or nerve damage. But it also includes chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, osteoporosis or even depression. A preexisting condition can be something you knew about before your injury. It can also be something you discover at the time of your injury, like finding signs of arthritis after imaging for a sprain.
Are preexisting conditions covered by workers’ compensation?
Under Georgia workers’ comp law, an injury must be directly connected to your work in order to be paid. But workers’ comp benefits will also cover workplace injuries that aggravate a preexisting condition. For example, let’s say you injured your neck in a car crash years earlier but had no recent treatment. Workers’ comp would cover your physical therapy and missed time off work if you reinjured your neck moving boxes on the job. If you were already undergoing physical therapy, but you now required surgery, workers’ comp would only cover the new treatment needs.
Understandably, figuring out where to make this differentiation can get quite complex. If you have arthritis in your hands and wrists and then experience workplace-related carpal tunnel syndrome, it’s challenging to prove where one condition ends and the other begins.
It’s also tricky when your preexisting injury was itself the result of a workplace accident. In such cases, your benefits will typically be reduced to make up for your previous payout.
What to do if the insurance company denies your claim
Unfortunately for injured workers, insurance companies often deny cases involving preexisting conditions or injuries. But it’s important to not give up. The insurance company does have an obligation to cover your workplace injury if it took place on the job—even if your injury aggravated an existing issue.
You’ll need to be prepared to prove that your workplace injury made your existing issue worse. It can be helpful here to have not only the current opinion of a medical professional but your history of treatment as well. You’ll also want to speak to an experienced Georgia workers’ comp attorney.
An Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer can guide you through the process and prepare you for the possibility of a qualified medical examination—a third party medical review requested by the insurance company.
The truth is, cases involving existing injuries or chronic conditions often require negotiations, but a skilled workers’ comp attorney can pursue the compensation you deserve.
Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
If you’ve been injured on the job and worry that your preexisting condition will complicate your claim, we’re here to help. Contact the Law Offices of Laura Lanzisera today for a free consultation, or give us a call at 404-991-5097.