How Will a Previous Injury Affect Compensation for My Work Injury?
If you have submit a worker’s compensation claim, one of the first things the insurance company will want to know is whether you have ever had any previous injuries similar to your new injury. For example, if you injure your back or neck, the insurance company will want to know if you have ever previously injured your back or neck during your entire life. If you have received such a previous injury, the insurance company will want to know all the details concerning the injury, such as how it happened, what treatment was given, and whether a full recovery was made.
While it may seem that the insurance company wants a lot of information, particularly if your injury occurred years or even decades previously, what they are really after is to see if there is any connection between a previous injury and your current injury. If there is such a connection, they will want to see if your benefits can be minimized under the theory that your ability to work or to perform certain tasks or functions is not in fact due to any recent work injury, but instead is solely due to the previous injury.
Let’s take an example.
Suppose you injured your back in high school while playing football. The insurance company will want to know how badly your back was injured, what diagnosis was made, what type of treatment was undertaken, how long you were affected by the injury, and whether the injury affected aspects such as your movement, ability to lift heavy objects, ability to engage in sports or other activities, and whether the injury otherwise affected your life in any manner.
During an examination by the insurance company, or in response to questions from the insurance company, it is critical to always be truthful. With respect to a previous injury, there is no need to enhance or minimize any aspect of what occurred or how it may have affected your life. It is perfectly fine if you feel that you fully recovered from the injury and wish to say so.
Tying Old Injuries to New Work Injuries
Despite your belief that you may have made a full recovery from your previous injury, and even though the previous injury may have happened years ago and you’ve not had any problems since, insurance companies nonetheless will often assert that the new injury is just a manifestation of the original injury. This assertion is used to get injured workers to accept a settlement for less than the true value of the claim. Insurance companies know, for instance, that there is no way that a worker can definitively prove that the old injury was completely independent from the new injury. (On the other hand, there is usually no way that the insurance company can similarly prove that the old injury is the same as the new injury.)
Our Role in Demanding Full Compensation
Our role as workers’ compensation attorneys is to demand full compensation and benefits for our clients who were injured on the job. In this role, we will want to fully document your injuries (including how, when, and where you were injured; and the extent and permanency of your injuries). To do so, we rely on the medical records and opinions of treating physicians and other medical professionals.
We refute the claims of insurance carriers when they make spurious claims about the new injury being the result of a past injury. Unless they are able to prove a connection between an old and new injury, their assertions should be rejected outright, and should not affect your claim to compensation benefits. As workers’ compensation lawyers, we are experienced in seeing these inaccurate claims from insurance companies, and their lawyers know that we will properly object to such claims when they are initiated.
Don’t Wait – Get Started with Your Claim Today
If you have been injured on the job, it is important to begin immediately documenting your injury and seeking medical treatment. Do not simply assume that your injury will heal quickly on its own or forgo seeking medical treatment; many injuries in fact become worse if proper medical treatment is not sought soon after the injury.
To learn more about how we can help you get the full benefits and compensation to which you are entitled, particularly if you have suffered a previous injury that may be similar to your current work injury, please contact our firm for a free, no–obligation consultation.