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Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Secondary Injuries


After suffering a work-related injury, you may know that your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance coverage should cover your medical expenses and compensate you for other losses, such as lost wages. However, if you suffer a secondary injury, it may be unclear whether your injury is covered under workers’ compensation. After suffering a secondary injury, you might wonder, “Does workers’ compensation cover secondary injuries?” Workers’ compensation is designed to cover injuries that arise out of and in the course of employment, which typically includes both primary and secondary injuries.

What Is a Secondary Injury?

You may suffer another injury after suffering a work-related injury (the primary injury). An injury that occurs after an initial injury is called a secondary injury. While a primary injury directly results from a workplace accident or incident, the secondary injury develops days, weeks, or even months after the primary injury. Secondary injuries occur due to issues surrounding the initial work-related injury.

Secondary injuries can occur in several ways. The following are some of the common causes of secondary injuries;

  • Complications from surgery
  • Medication side effects
  • Physical therapy
  • Physiological factors

Examples of secondary injuries an employee can suffer include the following;

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Infections
  • Injuries related to surgical errors
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Allergic reactions
  • Nerve damage
  • Chemical dependency
  • Panic disorder
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Chronic pain

For example, after undergoing surgery for a primary injury, complications may arise that lead to infections or nerve damage.

Secondary Injuries and Workers’ Compensation

As mentioned earlier, workers’ compensation covers injuries that arise out of and in the course of employment, which typically includes both primary and secondary injuries. Suppose you suffer a work-related arm injury, undergo surgery, and develop an infection after the surgery. In such a case, workers’ compensation should generally cover the infection. Further, you are not required to file a separate claim to start collecting benefits for the secondary injury. However, you must inform the insurance company of the secondary injury to be able to collect benefits.

To receive additional workers’ compensation benefits, you are required to show a relationship between the secondary injury and the initial work-related injury. To establish this relationship, you need sufficient evidence. If you don’t have enough evidence, you give the insurance company an opportunity to argue that your secondary injury is not related to your primary injury. Types of evidence that can help you prove your case include your doctor’s opinion, other medical records, and expert testimony.

A qualified workers’ compensation attorney can help if you are seeking compensation for a secondary injury that occurred after a primary work-related injury. An attorney can help you gather the evidence necessary to prove your claims. They can help you communicate with the insurance company, negotiate with the insurance company, and address any disputes that may arise. If the insurance company denies you additional benefits, an experienced attorney can help you present a compelling case in court.

Contact a Vermont Workers’ Compensation Attorney

If you have questions or need help with a workers’ compensation claim, contact our experienced Vermont workers’ compensation attorney at Sluka Law PLC.

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