Under Florida workers’ compensation laws, all workers are entitled to lost wages and medical benefits after an on-the-job injury. Unfortunately, if you have been injured at work, having a pre-existing illness or injury can significantly complicate your ability to collect workers’ compensation benefits. This is especially true if your pre-existing injury happens to be medically related to your current on-the-job illness or injury.
As an example, suppose you fell many years ago, which resulted in knee surgery and chronic pain. Recently, you trip over an item left in a walkway at your current place of employment and re-injure your knee. Does your pre-existing condition prevent you from receiving benefits? If you cannot prove that your work related injury is more than 50% responsible for your condition, then you may be denied benefits. Insurance companies are especially skeptical when pre-existing conditions are present, and often use this to deny benefits that you are rightfully entitled to.
Where Your Original Injury Occurred Matters for Workers’ Compensation Claims
If your original injury didn’t occur at work, you could see a significant decrease in benefits, and permanent disability benefits in particular. This is because your employer will claim your new injury is only an aggravation of your prior injury. As such, it is extremely important that you provide your doctor with extensive history and documentation of your prior injury. This will enable your doctor to better determine if your new injury is related to your prior injury.
If you happen to have a pre-existing condition that you believe was made worse after an on-the-job accident, it is important to find a doctor who is experienced in treating workplace injuries, as he or she will know the precise terminology and phrases to use for your workers’ compensation claim.
Unrelated Pre-Existing Conditions May Have No Impact on Workers’ Comp Claims
Keep in mind that a pre-existing condition that is unrelated to your current injury — whether due to a workplace injury or not — should have little impact on your current workers’ compensation claim. If your prior injury has no bearing on your current claim, then your employer is still required to pay your medical bills and lost wages. It’s important to note, however, that pre-existing and unrelated conditions are still of primary importance in the consideration of total and permanent disability. If your pre-existing condition, combined with your current workplace injury, renders you unable to work, then your workers’ comp benefits could potentially be impacted.
Getting the Help You Need After a Workplace Injury
If you have suffered a workplace injury and are being denied workers’ compensation benefits due to a pre-existing condition, you need experienced legal assistance. Talking to a knowledgeable Florida workers’ compensation attorney can truly make the difference between receiving the benefits you are entitled to, and being denied benefits all together. At Sternberg / Forsythe, our Florida workers’ compensation attorneys are conveniently located in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, and Orlando. Contact us today at 561-687-5660 for a free consultation and review of your case, or fill out our confidential contact form and someone will call you back.