Millions of Americans have degeneration in their joints. …Shoulders. …Hips. …Knees. …Back. For many these changes are asymptomatic. The degeneration causes no physical limitations or restrictions to their life or work. For others, it may cause mild to moderate issues but the individual is still able to do most things without limitation or pain. These are known as preexisting conditions and are a major source of litigation in Colorado’s workers’ compensation system.
If you are injured at work while performing work duties you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Simply because you had a preexisting medical condition does not change that. However, it may make your journey in obtaining the benefits more difficult. Insurance carriers will often use a preexisting medical condition to deny certain medical benefits – such as a needed surgery – or that a work injury occurred at all. Often in these situations what must be established is that what you were doing at work at the time you were injured made your preexisting medical condition worse.
There are certain things injured workers can do to help avoid litigation – thus streamlining needed benefits – when a work injury made a preexisting medical condition worse. Start with being honest and transparent. Disclosing a prior injury or condition is not an automatic bar to receiving – or being entitled to – workers’ compensation benefits. My clients that are the most successful in obtaining needed benefits in these situations are the ones who disclose prior injuries and conditions and are able to effectively communicate in what ways the recent work injury made things worse. This approach helps build a more trusting relationship between you and your treating physician (who is often the person deciding whether or not a worsening of condition occurred or if certain treatment is a result of your work injury). It also boosts your credibility if you do end up at a hearing.
From a practical standpoint, when you claim an injury happened at work the insurance carrier is able to search your past for any prior injuries or other claims for workers’ compensation benefit. People who have legit claims for workers’ compensation benefits often set themselves up for failure when a prior injury or medical condition is not disclosed. Failing to disclose a prior injury or condition can put a claim on a path where all trust is lost between you and your doctor and insurance uses it as a reason to question providing any further benefits.
Also, if you have prior medical condition that is made worse by a work injury contact an attorney for guidance and help. What often happens in these situations is the work injury will take the worker completely off work. During this time the insurance carrier will pay for medical treatment, but not lost wages. Insurance will then deny the claim once more invasive medical treatment – such as a surgery – recommended. People will then seek the advice of a workers’ compensation attorney but have already missed up to three months of work. Don’t let that happen to you. Seek the advice of an attorney and get the benefits you need. Call The Sawaya Law Firm, today.