A pre-existing condition refers to an ailment or medical condition that you have been previously diagnosed with and/or treated for.
In some instances, a pre-existing condition may be exacerbated by conditions in your workplace. Asthma symptoms may flare up more often if you are exposed to extremely high or low humidity, or arthritis pain may worsen for a person who has to stand for long periods of time. Additionally, an accident on the job could cause further harm to a prior injury. Suppose the nature of your pre-existing condition worsens due to your working conditions and environment or a workplace accident. Should your employer have to compensate you for your medical costs?
Workers’ compensation covers the aggravation of injury to an already existing condition. However, proving the extent of pain or disability that was directly work-related may be difficult. Therefore, it is a good idea to seek the advice of a workers’ compensation lawyer. Workers’ compensation insurance is expensive for employers, and they will go to any means to avoid having to pay any claims. It is important to note that symptoms alone are not compensable. A harmful change to your condition should be noted by a medical professional for you to receive benefits.
The most common conditions worsened by workplace activities are back injuries and arthritis. These types of injuries are most often not worsened by one isolated accident but the act of doing repetitive tasks, such as heavy lifting, over long periods of time. The employer may argue that the exacerbation of the condition could just as easily be related to activities outside the workplace. Under Missouri law, these types of injuries do not automatically fall under the jurisdiction of worker’s comp. A qualified Missouri workers’ compensation attorney can help you make the distinction.
In cases where an accident causes aggravation of the pre-existing condition, medical care may be required that will help improve the state of the employee’s condition overall. An employee suffering from a knee condition further aggravated by a workplace accident may require expensive surgery to repair. As a result, the overall state of the pre-existing injury will be improved. Missouri laws typically favor the employee in these cases and allow for such surgeries and improvements in quality of life to be covered by workers’ compensation.
Proving an Existing Injury Was Made Worse by Your Job
Obtain a Letter from Your Treating Physician Documenting the Worsening of Your Condition
One way to prove that your injury was worsened by your job is to provide medical records that document the worsening of your condition. Your treating physician can write a letter detailing how your injury has changed since you began working at your current job. This letter can help establish a causal link between your employment and the deterioration of your health.
In addition, if you have undergone any diagnostic testing, such as X-rays or MRIs, you can provide copies of these reports as well.
Show That You Would Not Have Needed the Medical Care You Received if It Had Not Been for Your Work Activity
Along with medical records, you will also need to prove that your work activity was the cause of the injury. To do this, you’ll need to show that the nature of your injury is such that it could only have been caused by your work activity.
Additionally, you would need to demonstrate that the work activity was performed under circumstances that were significantly different from those present in your everyday life. For instance, if you were lifting a heavy object that was awkwardly shaped, or if you were lifting it in an environment with limited space, these factors would help establish that your work activity was the cause of the injury.
Compile Other Forms of Evidence from Your Workplace
Another way to establish that your injury was made worse by your job is to look for other forms of evidence from your workplace. This might include eyewitness accounts from co-workers, security camera footage, or even a written accident report. If you can find corroborating evidence from multiple sources, it will strengthen your claim that your workplace was responsible for worsening your injury. In addition, if you have a history of injuries in the same area of your body, you can use this to show that the accident at work was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak.
If you can meet these burdens of proof, then you’ll be well on your way to receiving workers’ compensation benefits for your injuries. However, it’s worth noting that it’s not as easy as it sounds. It calls for a delicate and complicated analysis. You will benefit greatly from the assistance of an experienced attorney who understands the often multi-layered approach necessary to prove an injury “made worse by employment.”
St. Louis Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
The laws surrounding workers’ compensation, especially in cases where a pre-existing condition is involved, are constantly evolving. Employers are going to fight hard to avoid having to pay for any medical expenses or lost wages. Arm yourself with an experienced Missouri workers’ compensation lawyer and fight for the full compensation that you deserve.
Speak With a Workers Comp Attorney
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