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Pre-Existing Conditions

Most on-the-job injuries are fairly straightforward. There are usually witnesses to corroborate what occurred, unsafe conditions to point to, and management who is either directly in the area or close enough to survey the accident scene where it happened almost immediately. But when a work accident does not cause a new injury, but rather aggravates an existing problem, things can get tricky, Denver workers’ compensation lawyers said. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get an employer to accept responsibility and act accordingly.

Any injury that occurs at your job is considered a workplace injury, and if that injury aggravates an existing ailment, it should be covered by workers’ compensation laws. But in some cases, employees who are injured on the job and have their existing conditions reappear or flare-up, as a result, are told that workers’ compensation insurance will not provide coverage for their medical needs.

Immediate Action Required

One of the major problems with pre-existing conditions that are aggravated through a work injury concerns the timeline. An employee may have a history of back pain, knee pain or other joint problems that they have dealt with in the past. At work, this person may be performing a routine task and strain one of these joints, drop something or slip, causing injury to himself. Often, if an injury has caused a flare-up in a pre-existing condition, the pain will not manifest itself right away, but as the days go by, the employee may notice increased stiffness, jolts of pain or discomfort from the lingering injury.

It may take some time for the employee to link the work injury to the flare-up of an existing condition, but when he or she connects the dots, there may be further complications from the employer and the insurance company. Pre-existing conditions are difficult to demonstrate, especially if the employee did not previously mention the injury when it happened. In these cases, it is important to emphasize what impact the injury had on the existing problem.

How Did the Injury Affect An Existing Condition?

Although pre-existing condition claims are often complicated by insurance denials and refusals from an employer, a work injury that causes an existing condition to become worse or reappear has to simply meet a shortlist of criteria and can be demonstrated if the injured employee needed any of the following:

  • New treatment for pre-existing conditions
  • Increased treatment, meaning that the condition had been sufficiently treated by one method, but after the workplace injury, more advanced treatment (surgery, for example) was needed
  • Accelerated treatment, meaning the condition would have required operation or surgery in the next few years, but now needs immediate medical attention following a workplace injury

This list demonstrates that the important determination in a pre-existing condition workers’ compensation case is what medical treatment was needed to fix the condition following an injury in the workplace.

At Levine Law, we urge people who have been injured on the job to take immediate action and document everything. To discuss your case, contact one of our Denver workers’ compensation lawyers today. 

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