Author: Henri M Saunders
We often talk to clients who have been injured in an accident or at work but think they’re not entitled to compensation because of a pre-existing condition. The good news is that this simply isn’t true. We regularly help clients recover damages for injuries incurred in accidents or at work that aggravated a pre-existing injury or condition.
These cases can be more complicated, but individuals need to know they still could be entitled to compensation. Here’s a brief overview of how these cases work and things you should know if you’ve had an existing condition aggravated.
Workers Compensation Claims for Pre-Existing Conditions
We regularly get questions about whether clients are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits when a pre-existing injury is aggravated. Simply put, if your work or a workplace injury significantly made your injury worse, you may be entitled to compensation.
Signs of “significant aggravation” include the need for medical treatment, missed work, and work restrictions. In these situations, employees can be entitled to payment for medical expenses, physical therapy, new prescriptions, or even adaptive devices.
The Difference Between Exacerbating & Aggravating an Injury
When dealing with pre-existing conditions in the workers’ compensation context, it’s important to note the distinction between “exacerbating” an injury and “aggravating” an injury. People often mix up these words, but legally, they mean different things.
When you exacerbate an injury, it means that it’s temporarily worsened but will return to the previous condition. In contrast, when you aggravate a pre-existing condition you make it permanently worse. This distinction is crucial in cases dealing with pre-existing conditions, and recovery is much more likely for workers who have aggravated, rather than exacerbated, a pre-existing condition.
Common Pre-Existing Conditions in Workers Comp Claims
In these situations, we often see injuries like arthritis, heart disease, herniated discs, mental health disorders, high blood pressure, and joint issues. These are pre-existing conditions that are commonly aggravated by workplace accidents or activities and that regularly result in workers’ compensation claims.
Personal Injury Claims When There Are Pre-Existing Conditions
Similarly, you can be entitled to damages for aggravation of pre-existing conditions in personal injury cases. The general idea here is that a defendant is still responsible for their negligence even if you had a pre-existing condition.
In these cases, our law holds that the responsible party must compensate the injured party for the degree that the condition was aggravated. Put simply, the person who caused the injury “takes their victim as they found them,” and the victim is entitled to be compensated to the full extent of his/her aggravation. Even if a pre-existing condition made the individual more prone to injury, the defendant is still responsible for that aggravation.
These cases are tricky because we need to show how the injury got worse after the accident. We usually use medical records, work history, and what witnesses saw to prove how the injury affected our client’s life.
If you are ever involved in an accident that aggravates a pre–existing condition, it’s important to promptly seek medical attention. Not only will this help ensure you get needed care and the best possible outcome, but it will provide important documentation of your injuries.
Common Types of Aggravation in Personal Injury Cases
Some of the most common types of pre-existing conditions that are aggravated in personal injury cases include neck and back pain, knee injuries, shoulder injuries, arthritis, herniated discs, traumatic brain injuries, prior head injuries, and degenerative disc disease.
Contact the Saunders & Chabert Team
Cases involving aggravation of pre-existing conditions are not simple, but our team understands how to deal with these issues and ensure that responsible parties and insurance companies pay the benefits that our clients are owed. Our team knows how to present evidence to show the impact of the aggravated injury and get the best result for our clients.
If your existing health problem got worse at work or in an accident, give us a call. We’ll talk for free and guide you on what to do next. We’ll give you a free consultation and provide you with our advice for the next steps. Call today at (225) 771-8100 or schedule your free consultation online.