Will a Pre-Existing Medical Condition Affect My Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Posted by: Chris

Under Oklahoma law, employees that sustain work-related injuries or illnesses are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, it may be more difficult for you to obtain these benefits if you have a pre-existing injury or medical condition.

What is a pre-existing injury or condition?

The term “pre-existing injury” refers to any illness, injury, or health condition that you had prior to suffering a work-related injury. Pre-existing injuries are not covered by the workers’ compensation system unless you can prove that performing your job duties aggravated the condition.  

If you had a pre-existing condition and then sustain an injury at work that aggravates the condition and leaves you unable to do your job, this is typically considered a new injury and you would be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. A possible exception is if the new injury was to exactly the same body part as the old injuries, and the new symptoms are the same as they were after your old injury. Your claim could be denied on the basis that you have sustained a recurrence of your old injuries and not a new injury.

Proving aggravation of pre-existing injuries

Your employer’s insurance company will not approve your claim for workers’ compensation benefits without seeing proof that your pre-existing injury or medical condition was aggravated by your work. The best way to prove aggravation of pre-existing injuries is with medical records.

A treating physician must clearly confirm that your condition has worsened and must establish an identifiable and significant aggravation of a pre-existing injury that occurred in the course and scope of employment. Imaging tests such as MRIs and other scans can be used to show how the damage has significantly worsened. 

It is important that when you are treated for your work-related injury and are asked about your medical history that you are completely candid about your prior injuries or conditions. Injured workers sometimes make the mistake of not revealing prior injuries for fear that their workers’ compensation claim will be denied based on their old injuries. However, your claim is more likely to be denied if you are not honest when asked about your medical history. You stand a much better chance of winning your claim if you are forthright, provide a complete history, and emphasize that you were able to perform your job duties until you were injured at work.

Are you trying to recover compensation for a pre-existing injury? If so, seek legal representation from the experienced attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. at once. Let our team build a strong case that clearly shows why you qualify for benefits for your pre-existing injury. 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.