Separating the Work-Related Injury from the Preexisting Condition

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One of the more-contentious situations encountered in workers’ compensation litigation involves separating the injuries a worker receives from a workplace accident from any preexisting, non-work-related conditions the worker may have had.
Consider the following scenario: Leo works in a warehouse in which he is repeatedly required to lift heavy loads, some of which may be over 60 pounds. Leo was injured in a hunting accident several years ago and has had back pain ever since. At the time he was treated, doctors informed him that his back condition would continue to deteriorate over the years until one day when he would not be able to perform his work duties anymore. He has managed his pain with medication for years. Then one day Leo improperly lifts a heavy item, which causes him excruciating and debilitating back pain. He is unable to return to work after this accident. Under these facts and circumstances, how would Leo go about calculating the amount of workers’ compensation benefits to which he is entitled under the workers’ compensation laws?

The Necessity of Prior Medical Records and Current Treatment Records

Leo is not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for any injuries that are not connected to his work activities. He is able to receive benefits for any aggravation of a pre-existing condition, so long as he is able to show that the aggravation is attributable to the performance of his job duties. Because Leo’s preexisting back injury would already have likely resulted in his complete disability, Leo’s difficulty in this situation will be in establishing the extent that his work-related injury accelerated that inevitable result. This is not an easy task.
If Leo (or someone similarly situated) is going to obtain the maximum workers’ compensation benefit possible, he or she will need to present evidence from the doctor(s) treating him after the work-related condition as well as the doctor(s) who have been treating him since his initial injury. The testimony from the doctors who have been treating Leo since his initial injury and Leo’s medical records since that initial injury have the potential to be the most persuasive evidence available for consideration in the matter.

What if I Don’t Have Extensive Medical Treatment Records?

If you did not seek medical treatment after your initial injury or did not follow through with treatment, you will have an even more challenging time recovering workers’ compensation benefits. It is therefore imperative that you obtain legal counsel right away and follow your attorney’s instructions regarding seeking medical treatment and following through with your doctor’s orders. Your attorney may be able to show the extent of your work-related injury using other evidence or testimony.
David R. Price, Jr. is a Greenville, South Carolina, workers’ compensation attorney who is dedicated to helping injured workers recover compensation and benefits following work-related accidents. The sooner you retain his experienced services after your incident, the sooner he is able to go to work on your behalf. Call the law office of David R. Price, Jr., P.A. at (864) 271-2636 or contact the office through its website.


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