Understand your rights when it comes to aggravation injuries caused by your job
Many injured workers in Georgia file claims for workers’ compensation. A large number of these claims include the aggravation of a preexisting condition.
A preexisting condition often make a workers’ compensation claim more complex. Frequently, a preexisting condition is cited as a reason to deny a claim, even when a claim should be covered by the employer. This is why it’s very important to have an aggravation injury and workers’ compensation attorney working to protect your rights.
What is a preexisting condition?
There are many different types of preexisting conditions. In Georgia, preexisting conditions are defined as “a medical problem that existed prior to the work-related injury that is the reason for filing a claim.”
According to Georgia laws, the aggravation of preexisting conditions due to work-related injuries are covered by the state’s workers’ compensation program. The coverage continues for as long as the preexisting condition results in a disability.
Aggravation of preexisting conditions
At some point in your life, you may have injured your neck, back or another part of your body. You most likely received medical treatment for the injury, or you may have simply endured the pain and taken over-the-counter pain relief medication.
If you aggravate that existing injury when performing your work-related duties, can you receive workers’ compensation benefits?
Under Georgia law, the answer is yes.
You may claim workers’ compensation benefits if your work duties aggravated a pre existing injury or other medical condition. However, your employer and the insurance company that provides the workers’ compensation will work to keep the claim expenses as low as possible. They may deny your claim, or try to terminate your benefits before you fully recover.
Unless you have an experienced aggravated injury attorney working on your behalf, you may not receive all the benefits and medical treatment you deserve.
Common preexisting conditions
A preexisting condition can range from a prior work injury to chronic disease. For example, an employee may have previously injured their back at work and subsequently re-injured it trying to lift a heavy box.
Some employees may have a medical condition that was not directly caused by their job. One example of this is arthritis, which can be affected by work duties. Other types of preexisting conditions include:
- Previous knee injuries
- Previous back or shoulder injuries
- Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis
- Degenerative disk diseases
How preexisting conditions can impact your claim
When you file a claim to receive workers’ compensation benefits for a preexisting condition, the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation decides if the work-related injury is related to your preexisting condition.
There are 3 categories that the Board will consider.
- Preexisting conditions related to a previous claim. If the current work injury is aggravating a previous work-related injury that you filed a claim for, you may receive some compensation. However, your benefits may be reduced to take into account the prior claim. The Board will make a distinction between an entirely new injury and the aggravation of an older work-related injury. Your attorney can help you decide what type of claim to file.
- Preexisting condition not related to a previous claim. If your work aggravates a normal aging condition or a previous injury, such as a car accident injury, then you have a non-related preexisting condition. Frequently, a claim will compensate you for the amount that your work worsened the condition.
- A completely unrelated preexisting condition. If your preexisting condition is completely unrelated, it should have little to no impact on your workers’ compensation claim, and your employer should cover full benefits.
In some situations, a claim may be denied if the employee is not honest about having a preexisting condition. If you are considering filing a claim for that is related to a preexisting condition, it’s best to talk to a lawyer familiar with the applicable laws.
What benefits can you deserve?
Claims involving aggravation of preexisting injuries and conditions can have many complex legal and medical issues. You are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits when your work activities aggravate those conditions and injuries. You should be able to recover lost wage disability and medical benefits to the point when you are restored to the pre-aggravated condition. If you are seeking permanent total disability benefits, then you may only be compensated for the loss of function caused by the aggravation.
Typically, the insurance company will attempt to dispute all of these issues: the preexisting condition itself, the point to which you are restored to the pre-aggravated condition, the severity of the disability and the percentage of that was caused by the aggravation.
Workers’ compensation claims are complex and complicated. It’s in your best interest to hire an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer. At Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys, our team is highly trained in successfully resolving workers’ compensation claims on our clients’ behalf. We can help you receive the benefits you deserve.