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Workers’ Compensation and Pre-Existing Conditions

If you have suffered health problems due to your experiences on the job, you may be able to win a workers’ compensation claim even if you already had a pre-existing condition.

 

Before an employee may receive compensation or benefits under the workers’ compensation system, he or she must prove the occurrence of an accidental injury or death arising out of work performed in the course and scope of employment.

 

In most states, an accident does not arise out of the course and scope of employment unless the work performed in the course and scope of employment is the major contributing cause of the injury or death.

 

But what happens when an employee who has a preexisting condition is injured in the course of their job, and the injury hastens the necessity for treatment or creates a temporary disability?

 

Maximum Medical Improvement

 

An employee may suffer a temporary disabling aggravation of a preexisting condition as a result of an industrial accident. The courts will typically look at when the employee reached the point of “maximum medical improvement,” which is the point when lasting improvement is no longer reasonably anticipated. At this point, the permanency of the claimant’s condition or the resulting disability can be determined by the court and used to assess compensation.

 

Generally, the employer is not responsible for the resulting disability unless the accident is also the major cause of the permanent condition or resulting disability.

 

Toxic Environments

 

In most states, workers’ compensation is available for injuries that (1) resulted directly and solely from the accident and which would have occurred even in the absence of the pre-existing disease, but also (2) that which resulted from the acceleration or aggravation of the pre-existing disease by the accident.

 

Examples include a worker whose exposure to air toxics in a factory or a coal mine exacerbated an existing lung condition (even if the person had been a smoker), or an employee whose repetitive motions at work worsened an existing injury to the person’s hands or wrists.

 

Health Evaluation

 

The workers’ compensation system exists to protect the rights of all workers, not just those who were in perfect health prior to their most recent injury. In our complex society, most health problems have a multitude of possible causes. But if you think your health has been worsened by something that happened on the job, contact a skilled Memphis attorney to discuss how you can get the compensation that you are entitled to.

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