Can you get workers’ compensation for work-related arthritis?
Have you been wondering whether your employer can compensate you for your accelerated arthritis or newly developed degenerative disc disease?
Yes, they can.
As long as you can prove that it has been activated or accelerated by a work injury, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
The road to obtaining these benefits can be a daunting one. However, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you understand your rights and assist you in pursuing the best course of action.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is inflammation of the joints that may affect 1 or multiple joints. Many types of arthritis affect all kinds of people regardless of age, sex or race.
In the U.S., more than 300,000 children and 50 million adults have arthritis, making it the leading cause of disability in the country.
The symptoms of arthritis usually develop gradually, but at times they may appear suddenly. They can be mild or severe. The most common symptoms of arthritis include:
- Joint pain
- Reduced range of motion
Arthritis can also cause chronic pain, limit the function around a supportive body part and make it difficult to accomplish daily tasks.
Common types of arthritis
There are over 100 different types of arthritis and similar conditions. Here are a few of the most common ones that arise in the workplace.
This is the most common type of arthritis. It occurs due to joint overuse, whether caused by injuries, obesity or physical activity. It can also develop as a result of repetitive work tasks thus setting you up for osteoarthritis compensation claims. It develops gradually and usually affects the weight-bearing joints, such as hips, knees, spine and feet.
Fibromyalgia is a common condition among women, especially those between ages 40 and 75. Fibromyalgia affects more than 3.7 million Americans and distresses more than the joints. It can also cause memory loss, mood changes, irritable bowel syndrome and chronic fatigue. It forms pain-sensitive points around the neck, back, hips or legs.
3. Rheumatoid arthritis
This is an inflammatory type of arthritis that causes the immune system to malfunction. The malfunctioning allows an autoimmune disease to attack joints and surrounding tissues, including organs like the heart and lungs. It is one of the most painful types of arthritis and causes painful swelling in the hands, fingers and wrist.
Gout is developed when there is buildup plus overflow of uric acid in the body, forming crystal-like deposits in your joints. The symptoms happen quickly and acutely, starting from your big toe. The gout attacks may last anywhere between 3 and 10 days and are experienced months or years apart. When the uric acid levels are not managed, it can become chronic, causing severe pain, joint and kidney damage or even disability.
Lupus is another inflammatory arthritic condition. This condition can last for a long time and is triggered when the body’s immune system begins to attack healthy tissues. Contrary to popular belief, it is not contagious. When controlled, Lupus patients can lead full lives.
When work-related Injuries aggravate arthritis
About 64 percent of people living with arthritis are younger than 65 years old, meaning that many arthritis patients are still in the workforce and need to manage their condition plus careers.
Jobs that require repetitive motion or that require you to remain sedentary for long periods put you at a higher risk of triggering arthritis, including typing, construction work and other manual jobs. High impact activities or repetitive lifting may also adversely affect your health. In this case, you may qualify for workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation for aggravation of arthritis
When looking to file a workers’ comp claim, you must understand the conditions which are covered. Workers’ comp benefits include work-related injuries that are made worse by pre-existing conditions. You are eligible for compensation whether the pre-existing condition was work-related or not. Besides, arthritis makes you more predisposed to future injury.
To file a claim for this condition, you must prove that a work-related injury intensified the state and resulted in a disability. Do not forget to document any medical treatment received and contact a knowledgeable workers’ comp lawyer to assist you. You can also claim compensation for a disability that stemmed from a natural progression of a work injury.
Obstacles for obtaining benefits for a pre-existing condition
- Undiagnosed pre-existing conditions may impact your post-traumatic arthritis and workers’ compensation claim. When arthritis is initially discovered during treatment for a workplace injury, your request may require a hearing. Your attorney must then present medical records and any evidence to prove that the injury affected your health negatively.
- Insurers and employers may attempt to limit your benefits owing to unrelated pre-existing conditions. If that happens, speak to your lawyer and consider reporting a workers’ comp fraud.
- Few workers who develop post-traumatic arthritis understand their rights, especially in situations where insurance companies automatically deny their claims. Working with a workers’ comp attorney helps you prevent the denial and to appeal if the need arises.
Get help from experienced Georgia workers’ comp attorneys
An attorney will do most of the work for you and save you time, pain and effort, and increase your chances of obtaining fair and full compensation. At Gerber & Holder, our Georgia workers’ comp attorneys will ensure you follow all the laid down procedures, fill in all the required paperwork and negotiate with the insurer and employer on your behalf. We will also work tirelessly to gather evidence and not rest until you receive your deserved benefits.