Workers’ Compensation Claims
Workers’ compensation claims are more straightforward if you had no prior injuries or conditions. And yet, things are not always that simple. The fact that you had a prior injury should not discourage you from seeking appropriate compensation. Here are some situations you will need to consider:
Prior Disability Due to Unrelated Causes
Aging or injuries received due to unrelated causes may result in some amount of disability. This is true whether your employer has ever compensated you for it or not. For example, the doctors who examine you after you’re injured at work may decide that you already had some disability from these existing conditions. Even so, you are still entitled to compensation for new medical expenses. You’re also entitled to compensation for lost time at work caused by the work-related injury. You should also receive compensation if your disability is worse, especially if it is permanent.
If a doctor is already treating you for a non-related injury, your employer will seek to avoid paying for these treatments. This is true even though your treatment for the work-related injury is their responsibility. Depending on the circumstances, this can become complex, especially if you’ve injured the same part of the body.
Prior Disability Due to a Prior Workers’ Compensation Claim
Re-injuring yourself on the job after you’ve injured yourself at work before is also quite common. Your employer should pay you for new medical expenses and lost work time, as mentioned above. But they will likely argue that they should pay less if they paid for a previous disability. For example, if you injured your knee you might ordinarily be entitled to $25,000 for disability resulting from your injury. But if your employer paid $15,000 for injury to the same knee in the past, they will argue that you are only entitled to $10,000.
Prior Disability and Its Effect on Pension Eligibility
If your workplace injury leaves you disabled and you otherwise would have been eligible for a pension, your employer may argue that the injury or disability you already had is to blame. This can reduce your pension or cause them to deny your claim to it.
Any of these situations can increase the complexity of your workers’ compensation case. It’s reasonable to pay for your own medical expenses for existing conditions not related to your job. But your employer should not use these circumstances to pay you less than what you’re entitled to. You should talk to a workers’ comp lawyer in Long Island to protect your rights.
Thanks to Polsky, Shouldice & Rosen, P.C. for their insight into workers’ compensation and claims involving the previous injury.