Aggravation of Pre-Existing Conditions
For many hard-working Florida residents, having prior conditions from outside their jobs is a fact of life. Whether it was a sports-related injury from high school or college, an inherited medical condition, or an injury sustained during a car accident, pre-existing conditions are common issues in workers’ compensation claims. If you are injured on the job, the Florida workers’ compensation system provides a mechanism for recovering compensation for your medical expenses and a certain percentage of your lost wages, even when the injury involves the aggravation of a pre-existing condition. This is not a bar to seeking benefits through the workers’ compensation program, but it does make it more complicated in some instances to prove that the injury was the direct cause of the aggravation that you are experiencing. At Donaldson & Weston, our Stuart workers’ compensation attorneys have handled numerous claims on behalf of people in Martin and St. Lucie Counties, and we are ready to put our experience to use for you.Issues Related to the Aggravation of a Pre-Existing Condition
It is critical that you notify your employer as soon as you suspect that you have suffered an injury while at work or as a result of your job duties. There are some straightforward examples of work injuries, such as car accidents on the job, but other injuries may develop slowly over time due to repetitive movements or daily activities, such as lifting heavy objects or working on an assembly line.
Once your employer is notified of your injury, it will initiate a claim with its workers’ compensation carrier. According to Florida law, any employer that maintains four or more employees, including part-time workers, is required to provide workers’ compensation coverage. You will later be contacted by one of the insurance company’s claims adjusters to begin the process of investigating your claim. This typically starts with a medical examination conducted by a doctor who is authorized by the employer or the insurance company. During this exam, it is critical that you answer the doctor’s questions fully and honestly. They will want to learn more about your medical history, the nature of your injury, and other aspects of your life that may affect your overall health and physical well-being. This assessment will be used to determine the amount of weekly benefits that you should receive as compensation for your lost wages and other factors.
If you are claiming that the injury aggravated a pre-existing condition, there are specific rules and requirements that you must satisfy in order to receive benefits. First, Florida law defines a pre-existing injury as a medical condition that the employee developed before the claimed work injury or occupational disease, which contributed to the work injury or occupational disease. An employer is only required to provide compensation for the extent to which the injury was aggravated as a result of the employee’s job duties; they are not required to compensate the employee for the entire injury. For example, if you suffered a knee injury during a recreational activity that resulted in a history of arthritis, and you later injure your knee at work, the employer is responsible for any worsening of the condition but not for your existing arthritis.
It is not unusual for people who work in highly physical occupations, like construction workers, to suffer a job-related injury at some point in their careers. As a result, proving that the work injury caused a substantial worsening of your condition is a critical component of your claim. If you are awarded compensation for medical expenses, the award will be apportioned to reflect the percentage of expenses that resulted from the aggravation, excluding the percentage of expenses that were incurred due to the existing injury. Since this process can become complicated and often requires an examination and testimony by a qualified medical examiner, it is essential that you consult a knowledgeable work injury lawyer as soon as you can.Hire a Stuart Attorney to Provide Advocacy During the Benefits Process
At Donaldson & Weston, we have seen far too many situations in which an insurance company attempts to take advantage of an injured employee who has pre-existing conditions. We stand by each of our clients, ensuring that they understand their legal options and that their rights are protected throughout the claims process. Proudly representing people in Stuart, Port St. Lucie, and Jupiter, as well as other areas of St. Lucie and Martin Counties, our attorneys offer a free consultation to help you learn more about how we may be able to assist you. Call us now at 772-266-5555 or contact us online to schedule your appointment now.