Whether you have an active workers’ compensation claim or are getting ready to file due to an accident at work, you might want to learn how preexisting conditions can affect your right to receive benefits. Federal law requires employers to provide workers’ compensation benefits to employees who become hurt on the job. However, if you have old injuries or health conditions that a workplace accident aggravates, your compensation benefits could end up lower or denied.
Having preexisting conditions is not an automatic barrier to workers’ compensation benefits. Here’s why:
The impact on workers’ compensation eligibility
Though it is a benefit, not all employees qualify. The law has criteria in place that outlines eligibility and compensation parameters for workers’ compensation benefits and preexisting conditions. It does not matter if you have old physical trauma or not. If any injuries you sustain while performing your job duties causes old medical conditions to flare, your right to compensation remains intact if your circumstances qualify.
It is important for you to report all injuries you have, even if they do not stem from a workplace accident. Having documentation of your preexisting wounds on record can reduce the number of potential challenges you encounter with your workers’ compensation claim. Employers and insurers cannot use the existence of old injuries or ailments to deny your workers’ compensation benefits. They can, however, require proof of how your work accident injuries are causing old wounds to flare. That proof does not have to include the origin of the preexisting trauma, just that it exists and its effects.
The impact on workers’ compensation benefits
It is important to report any suspected injuries to your employer right away. Failure to do so can delay or void your right to compensation. Even if your old injuries are not work-related, you should have a medical professional document them. Workers’ compensation only covers injuries you sustain from the job. Old injuries that are aggravated from work duties, do not qualify for benefits and may reduce the amount of your workers’ compensation benefits.