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How a pre-existing condition can affect a workers’ compensation claim

Injuries in the workplace can happen in an instant or progress slowly over time. When dealing with the latter category, securing compensation benefits can prove more challenging; especially if insurance can pin the root cause of the injury on a pre-existing condition.

A pre-existing condition is any medical condition that started before a person’s health insurance went into effect. When a pre-existing condition exists, it may be difficult for workers to prove that their injury is work-related. In order to qualify for workers’ compensation, insurance providers typically require evidence that the injury was a direct result of the worker’s job duties.

So, does that mean having a pre-existing condition makes a true at-work injury impossible? Not quite.

Proving the injury is work-related

The key to gaining workers’ compensation, despite having a pre-existing condition, is in proving that the nature of your work has caused your injury. Years of bending and lifting, for example, can certainly accelerate the wear and tear of a person’s muscles. This would be the case whether a person had arthritis, muscular dystrophy, degenerative disc disease, or another pre-existing condition affecting the muscles.

However, there still needs to be proof that your job duties had direct consequences on your health. One way to do this is to speak up! Be sure to provide written notice to your supervisor whenever job duties have led to an injury.

An essential follow-up to this step is seeing a doctor. Doctor visits provide documentation of the degree of the injury as well as when it occurred and whether it worsened.

Next steps

In some cases, filing for a workers’ compensation claim with evidence from your employer and doctor may still not be enough. Having an advocate on your side who knows the in’s and out’s of employee rights in California can make a big difference. This way, workers’ compensation insurance companies are less likely to reject your claim in favor of their bottom line. Instead, there may be more opportunities to negotiate the benefits that will get you the level of care and treatment that you deserve.