Most people associate the term “workplace injuries” with broken bones, lacerations, and soft tissue strains. These are common work-related injuries, but they are far from the only types of workplace injuries. Many people suffer from chronic conditions as a result of their work. If you have been diagnosed with a chronic condition, it’s important to understand whether or not you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
What is a Chronic Condition?
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a chronic condition as one that:
- Persists for at least one year
- Requires ongoing medical treatment and/or limits your ability to engage in certain activities on a daily basis
Some examples of chronic conditions may include cancer, depression, chronic carpal tunnel syndrome, and chronic bursitis.
Does the Workers’ Compensation System Cover Chronic Conditions?
The answer to this question will depend on the nature and cause of your chronic condition. The workers’ compensation system covers injuries that arise out of the course and scope of employment as a result of an accident, cumulative trauma, or occupational disease.
For example, mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is considered a chronic condition. If you are suffering from mesothelioma as a result of repeated exposure to asbestos at work, your condition is covered because it is related to your work. But if you were not exposed to asbestos at work, you would not be entitled to benefits if you are diagnosed with this cancer.
Benefits For Pre-Existing Chronic Conditions
The rules regarding workers’ compensation benefits are different for pre-existing chronic conditions. If you suffer from a pre-existing chronic condition, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if your work aggravates or accelerates the condition.
For example, say you suffer from chronic bursitis in your shoulder and are required to perform repetitive motions at work that aggravate this condition. Your work may not have caused the initial condition, but it did cause the aggravation of the condition. For this reason, the workers’ compensation system will cover the aggravation of the condition, but not the condition itself. However, in order to recover benefits, you must be able to show that there has been a significant, identifiable aggravation that is directly linked to your work.
Are you suffering from a chronic work-related condition? If so, seek legal representation from Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. as soon as possible. Our attorneys have the legal experience and resources to win the most complex workers’ compensation cases. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.