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Rosenberg, Kirby, Cahill, Stankowitz & Richardson
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Protecting The Injured

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Does a pre-existing condition affect workers’ compensation?

Many workers find themselves injured on the job and they may be eligible for workers’ compensation, though they may be denied due to a pre-existing condition. An insurance company or employer cannot deny a claim simply because the employee has a pre-existing injury or condition.

The employee must file the workers’ compensation claim based on a new incident. You must show that that work-related injury aggravated your pre-existing injury or condition. What matters is the evidence that the workplace injury worsened the old injury. A pre-existing condition develops before beginning work in your current position or place of employment. You must have already received treatment for this condition.

You should always report your injuries even if you have a pre-existing condition. Not only is this required by New Jersey’s workers’ compensation law, but it can also help in a dispute with an employer or insurance company.

Is the amount of compensation affected?

While a pre-existing condition is not a valid reason to deny your claim, it can affect the amount of damages you receive. Workers’ compensation will cover costs that relate to the new pain but does not have to cover the initial damage. Therefore, the benefit amount in New Jersey can be prorated based on an earlier injury.

The pre-existing injury does not always affect benefits if the work-related injury is entirely separate and different. A previously broken leg, for instance, would not affect a case where you fell and hurt your back at work.

Many insurers will fight to deny your work injury claim and not pay you what you deserve. They may try to say the condition was your fault or that your work is not liable for any part of the injury. Do not let this stop you from pursuing your claim. There are skilled attorneys ready to help you through the process of workers’ compensation.