Find out if you qualify for workers’ comp if you have a pre-existing condition
In 2018, more than 77,500 work-related injuries were reported in Georgia, with aggravated workplace injuries making up a significant percentage of this number. Suffering from a work-related accident when you have a pre-existing back injury can be an excruciatingly painful and financially taxing ordeal.
Fortunately, most people with pre-existing conditions are entitled to workers’ compensation under Georgia law. If you or your loved one has suffered an aggravated workplace injury, here’s how you can secure optimal workers compensation with the aid of our reputable lawyers at Gerber & Holder Law.
What is a pre-existing injury?
The legal definition of a pre-existing injury is a medical ailment that has existed long before the victim sustained damage from a workplace accident. Pre-existing back injuries can come in the form of muscle spasms, sharpness, pain or numbness.
However, they can also include prior back injury ailments brought about severe trauma or chronic diseases such as:
- Dislodged or herniated discs
- Degenerative disc disease
- Ligament and back muscle damage
- Fractured spine
- Spinal nerve damage
Are pre-existing conditions covered under workers’ compensation law?
Pre-existing back conditions should be treated the same as other workplace-related injuries, according to workers’ compensation law. However, the extent to which Georgia law covers your injury will vary.
For victims who’ve aggravated their pre-existing back injury due to a recent workplace incident, they are entitled to compensation for any substantial damage.
However, your entitled benefits may vary depending on the severity of your injury and its claim category. To better understand your compensation amount, consult with an experienced attorney near you.
Do you have a pre-existing back injury corresponding to prior claims?
Suppose you sustained a workplace back injury and received workers’ compensation benefits. Under Georgia law, you’re still entitled to additional compensation for a new injury that aggravates the former injury. However, your benefits may be reduced to compensate for your previously filed claim.
In cases where your workplace injury severely aggravated your pre-existing condition, causing new damage, your entitled benefits may increase.
It’s important to consult with your physician and an expert workers’ compensation lawyer to choose the correct claim category. Depending on the damage, your lawyer can help you decide whether you’re better off opting for a new workers’ compensation claim or filing for a pre-existing injury settlement.
What if your pre-existing injury is unrelated to your claim?
Your pre-existing injury would be deemed as non-related to your claim if your work accident aggravated a previous injury that was not caused by medical ailments or a job-related accident.
For example, say you incurred a herniated back injury from a previous motor vehicle accident. If your current work involves heavy lifting, chances are the condition could worsen.
In this case, you will be allowed to secure workers’ compensation benefits but only to the particular degree to which your job had aggravated your previous condition.
Your current work injury is unrelated to your pre-existing back injury
Sometimes, you may incur an unrelated workplace injury that doesn’t trigger or aggravate your prior back injury.
For example, if you suffered a work-related injury to your thigh, or your job has caused respiratory problems, your pre-existing back injury is deemed unrelated to your currently sustained work injury.
In this particular scenario, Georgia law states that you are entitled to receiving full workers’ compensation benefits instead of filing for an aggravated claim.
Available workers’ compensation benefits for a pre-existing back injury
Regardless of whether your workers’ compensation case is based on your newly sustained injury or the aggravation of your pre-existing injury, you should be rewarded compensation benefits.
After successfully filing a settlement with the help of our experienced attorneys, your employer and their insurance company will be required to cover your expenses. Such available benefits include financial settlement towards your medical costs, such as:
- Medical prescriptions
- Hospital bed costs
- Surgery, if necessary
- Physical therapy
If your workplace injury has affected your ability to work, you will also be entitled to receive indemnity benefits that will also cater to your lost wages as you recover.
Despite this, your employer may try to cut short your coverage the moment your aggravated pre-existing injury returns to its initial discomfort level. Therefore, to avoid losing out on your entitled benefits coverage, seek assistance from a trained lawyer immediately.
How insurers try to deny rightful compensation claims
Unfortunately, receiving the workers’ compensation benefits you may be entitled to is not always an easy task as the insurance company may try to dispute your claim. One way they might do so is by refuting the existence of your pre-existing injury and its aggravation.
However, by having your medical records with you to back up your claim, you can dismantle their argument. Some of the common tactics insurance companies may use to deny your claim include:
- Discouraging you from seeking expert legal advice
- Intentionally delaying the claim process
- Asking you to record a statement, which they’ll use against you
- Tricking you into signing medical record authorization documents
Aside from deploying these underhanded methods, insurance companies may also downplay the degree of your pre-existing back injury in order to decrease your claim benefits in their favor. Unless you hire an experienced attorney, your efforts to obtain full benefits may fail.