Can I Recover Workers’ Compensation Benefits if I Have a Pre-Existing Condition?
After a work accident, people ask if they can recover workers’ compensation if they have a pre-existing condition. As workers’ compensation attorneys in Vermont, we get asked this question many times. So, can you recover workers’ compensation benefits if you have a pre-existing condition? The answer to this question is it depends. However, according to Vermont workers’ compensation law, pre-existing conditions do not automatically bar you from recovering workers’ compensation benefits. If you were involved in a work accident and have a pre-existing condition, you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney about your case. If your pre-existing condition was aggravated or exacerbated by the accident, or you experienced a flare-up of symptoms, you can recover workers’ compensation benefits. However, these claims can be challenging to navigate without legal help.
Aggravation/Exacerbation of a Pre-Existing Condition
After a work injury occurs and you have a pre-existing condition, one of the things that can happen is that you may suffer an aggravation or exacerbation of your pre-existing condition. Aggravation or exacerbation of a pre-existing condition means your condition worsens. Such a scenario is covered by workers’ compensation.
For example, suppose you have had a back condition for a year. If you injured your back after slipping and falling at work and worsened your underlying back condition (as opposed to simply suffering worsened symptoms), this is considered an aggravation or exacerbation of your pre-existing injury. This is considered a new injury, and your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company is responsible for your injury going forward. In such a case, your workers’ compensation claim would cover any necessary medical treatment, wage replacement, and depending on the extent of your new injury, disability benefits.
Flare-up of Symptoms
The second thing that could happen if you have a pre-existing condition and get involved in a work accident is that the symptoms of your pre-existing injury could temporarily worsen. This is called a flare-up. This scenario is also covered by workers’ compensation. A flare-up differs from an aggravation in that symptoms only temporarily increase or worsen in the case of a flare-up. The underlying condition does not worsen. For that reason, in the case of a flare-up, your employer’s insurance company will be responsible for your injury only until the symptoms of your pre-existing condition return to their previous baseline.
Continuation of Symptoms of a Pre-Existing Condition
You could also suffer a continuation of symptoms without your pre-existing condition changing. This scenario might not be not covered by workers’ compensation.
The law regarding pre-existing conditions is that employers should take employees as they find them. Even if an employee may be more likely to sustain an injury than other employees because of their pre-existing injury, if they suffer a new injury, their pre-existing injury is aggravated, or the symptoms of the pre-existing injury symptoms are worsened, the employer is responsible.
Contact an Experienced Vermont Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Unfortunately, employers and insurance companies often make it hard for employees with pre-existing injuries to recover workers’ compensation benefits. Employers and insurance companies, at times, dispute aggravation and flare-up claims. It can help to work with a qualified workers’ compensation attorney. Our skilled Vermont workers’ compensation attorneys at Sluka Law PLC are here for you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss your case.