YES! It is a myth that an injured worker, who may have hurt her back in the past, cannot pursue workers’ compensation as a result of aggravating her back while working. I frequently talk with people who believe they cannot pursue PA Work Comp benefits because they had pain in the same body part before their work activities. It is simply not true. You can and should pursue benefits if your work activities aggravated your condition.
Under Section 301 (c) of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, the term “injury” and “personal injury” is defined as “an injury to an employee, regardless of his previous condition, arising in the course and scope of his employment and related thereto, and such disease or infection as naturally results from the injury or is aggravated, reactivated or accelerated by the injury….”
As you can see from the plain, clear language of the PA Work Comp Law, it doesn’t matter if an injured worker had a preexisting condition, so long as you can demonstrate that the condition was aggravated, reactivated, or accelerated by the work activity. However, you can rest assured that the insurance carrier’s attorney, and the doctors hired by the insurance carrier, will do everything they can to pin the current set of symptoms on the preexisting condition versus the work activities. Generally speaking, the longer the gap in treatment from the prior injury until the work-related injury, the better the case. On the other hand, if the injured worker was treating up until the work incident, it is a much tougher case to pin liability on the work activities, naturally. It is simply imperative for injured workers, in this context, to tell his or her attorney and treating physicians as much detail as possible as to 1) when they last treated, 2) what doctors they treated with before the work incident, 3) what type of treatment they had, 4) what symptoms, if any, are now different in location or extent versus pre-work injury, and 5) what specific work activities triggered the symptoms. Doing your homework before the first hearing is absolutely critical so that you know what you’re dealing with, before cross examination commences.
While the history is always important in a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation case, its importance is heightened in cases involving a claim of an aggravation of a preexisting condition. A careful review of the prior medical records will help determine the viability of the workers’ compensation claim. The family doctor’s records, especially, can be instructive as they often document the initial onset of symptoms and tell us which doctors were involved in the treatment. Similarly, make sure to read the current medical records to see if the doctor has addressed the issue- ie, did the work activities aggravate, accelerate, or reactivate a prior condition within a reasonable degree of medical certainty?
If you aggravated a preexisting medical condition as a result of your work activities, whether suddenly, or from repetitive work activities over a course of time, call Certified Pennsylvania Work Injury Attorney and Specialist, Michael W. Cardamone at 215-206-9068 for a free consult or email MyPhillyWorkersComp@Gmail.com 7 Days A Week.
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The Firm For Injured Workers In Pennsylvania