Everybody deserves compensation when they sustain an injury or illness caused by the workplace. Unfortunately, there are times when workers’ compensation insurance carriers and employers delay or deny injury claims. Sometimes, these claims are denied because an employee had a pre-existing medical condition. At Koszdin, Fields & Sherry, we are here to fight for any worker who has trouble receiving their rightful compensation after a work injury. Here, our Van Nuys work injury attorneys want to discuss how a pre-existing condition can affect your workers’ compensation claim.
Aggravation of a pre-existing injury
Workers’ compensation claims in California that involve the aggravation of a pre-existing injury or illness are generally going to be more complicated than traditional workers’ comp claims. That is because you can almost guarantee that the employer or the workers’ compensation insurer will try to say that the injury was not working-related, thereby trying to get out of paying for the claim.
A pre-existing condition is defined as any injury or illness that affected an employee prior to a workplace accident or workplace exposure to harmful conditions. Some of the most common examples of pre-existing conditions include the following:
- Heart disease
- Herniated discs
- Mental health disorders
- Respiratory diseases
- Muscle strains
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
Aggravation versus exasperation of a pre-existing condition
These cases often devolve into debates over vocabulary. While the everyday person may use the words “aggravation” and “exasperation” interchangeably, these two words mean different things under California workers’ compensation law.
An aggravation of a pre-existing condition means that the worker has sustained a new injury or illness under California law. If the condition or injury causes the employee to sustain a temporary or permanent increase in their disability or causes the need for new medical treatment or a change in their current treatment plan, this is an aggravation of a pre-existing injury.
- The exasperation of a pre-existing condition occurs if the employee suffers from a work-related flareup of previous symptoms or a worsening of their symptoms. This is not considered a new injury under California workers’ compensation law.
The reality of these cases is that an employer or a workers’ compensation insurer will almost always strive to have the injury classified as an exasperation, not an aggravation of a pre-existing condition. It is crucial to work with an attorney who has extensive experience handling these cases to ensure that your work injury is classified appropriately.
Van Nuys Pre-Existing Injury Claims: Steps to Take When a Pre-Existing Injury is Aggravated
The fact that you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits when a pre-existing injury has been aggravated as a result of your work in California doesn’t mean the process of securing what you’re owed is always easy. Workers’ compensation insurance carriers are still businesses. If your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company can justify denying your claim or settling for less than your claim is worth, they will likely attempt to.
Employers themselves may also attempt to discourage workers from seeking compensation in these circumstances. For example, your employer may fear that if your claim is honored, their insurance premiums will go up.
This isn’t meant to suggest that you’ll be unable to receive the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve if a pre-existing injury has been aggravated due to work-related factors. It’s meant to highlight the importance of taking the following steps:
- If you’re aware of the fact that you have a pre-existing injury or condition that could be worsened, monitor for signs of aggravation and regularly see your doctor to confirm your injury isn’t worsening
- Seek immediate medical care if you notice any symptoms indicating potential aggravation of a pre-existing condition or injury
- Make a note whenever you experience symptoms of aggravation, and document work-related circumstances that may have contributed to your injury’s aggravation (for example, you might experience symptoms of an aggravated pre-existing injury when performing certain physical tasks at work)
- Follow all advice of your doctor if they determine that a pre-existing injury or condition has been aggravated
- When you become aware of the fact that a pre-existing injury or condition has been aggravated, file an official report with your employer accordingly
It’s also wise to review your case with legal professionals before filing a claim. Your odds of receiving the workers’ compensation benefits for which you may be eligible could be greater if you coordinate with a reputable Van Nuys pre-existing injury claim law firm.
How a Van Nuys Pre-Existing Injury Attorney Can Help
Our team can help you pursue workers’ compensation benefits if a pre-existing injury has been aggravated by:
- Gathering evidence to show your injury was worsened due to workplace conditions or your work duties
- Determining how much compensation you may be eligible for by adding up your compensable losses
- Filing a claim in a timely manner
- Coordinating with doctors, witnesses, and others who might play a role in your case
- Answering your questions as your claim is being handled
- Negotiating with the insurance company if they won’t initially offer a fair settlement
Additionally, when you hire a lawyer to represent you, you’ll have more energy and time to devote to recovering from your condition.
This is important when a pre-existing injury has been aggravated. Instead of adding to your burdens by negotiating with insurance adjusters, you can get proper rest while the team at our Van Nuys workers’ compensation law firm pursues the benefits for which you may be eligible.
Call our Van Nuys work injury lawyers today
If you or somebody you care about has sustained a workplace injury but are having trouble securing compensation because of a pre-existing medical condition, contact an attorney today. At Koszdin, Fields & Sherry , our dedicated team will work diligently to investigate your claim and negotiate with every party involved to ensure that you receive full compensation. This can include:
- Coverage of all medical expenses related to the workplace injury
- Lost wages or wage replacement
- Possible temporary or permanent disability