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Can You File for Workers’ Comp for a Pre-existing Condition?

To be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, your injury must be work related. But what if you aggravate an old injury that is not related to your job? Can you still file for workers’ comp? The answer is probably yes, but you need to be aware of potential issues.

Say, for example, you were cleaning out the gutters on your front-porch roof. As you were climbing down the ladder, you slipped and tumbled into your front yard, injuring your back. That injury is not job-related, and if you miss work, you are out of luck. But let’s say you go to the doctor, get checked out, and the doctor gives you a treatment plan. You follow the doctor’s plan and in a couple of days, your back is feeling better. You return to work, refraining from any heavy lifting until you are 100 percent. Some time later, you are performing a work-related task, and your back just gives out. In severe pain, but also disappointed because you’d assumed you were fully recovered, you report the incident and leave work.

Under these circumstances, you can file for benefits. California workers’ comp law protects workers who suffer a work-related event that significantly aggravates a pre-existing injury. However, consider a slight change in the facts.

Suppose you hurt your back in the same manner, but did not seek treatment. You went back to work before you had fully recovered, and you engaged in normal work activity before you were 100 percent. Your back was hurting, but not enough to prevent you from working, until it suddenly gave out. Can you collect workers’ comp now? The insurance company would say no; you haven’t significantly aggravated a pre-existing condition. Rather, you are still suffering from a non-work-related injury.

Because slight changes in fact patterns can lead to different interpretations, you should consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer at the Tous Law Group can present the facts of your injury in a favorable light. Call 714-602-4473 or contact our Orange County office online to schedule a free consultation.

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