You’ve had a bum back for years. At night, you constantly have to sit on a heating pad. You get muscle relaxants from your doctor to help with the pain and you see a chiropractor a couple of times each year, but your condition is manageable.
Then, one day at work, there’s an accident. Somebody loaded too many things on a tall shelf, and the boxes, files and metal shelving all came down on top of you. Your back is now badly injured and you’re no longer able to work.
Your employer (and their insurance company) may be quick to remind you that you have had “back problems” that long predated your accident at work. What happens next when you file your claim? They don’t want to take responsibility for some old injury that isn’t related to your job, so they may try to deny your claim.
If so, it’s time to fight back. Having a preexisting condition isn’t necessarily a bar to workers’ comp. When your pre-existing condition is aggravated or worsened by something that happened at work, that can still be considered a work injury. This also includes conditions that are worsened by repetitive stress damage that occurs slowly, over time, during the course of your job.
If your chronic condition has worsened due to your work activity, make sure that your doctor is carefully documenting the difference between your condition when it was manageable and your condition now — and be clear about what caused the change. If your workers’ compensation claim has been denied, find out how an attorney can help.