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Special Benefits for Injured Workers with Preexisting Injuries

When a workplace accident or repeat exposure occurs, it can cause serious injuries all on its own. When an employee already suffers from a previous injury or disability, a new injury can cause devastating harm. Luckily, employees who are further injured while working may qualify for additional workers’ compensation benefits to help them through their injury or illness.

California’s Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund (SIBTF) was created for the benefit of workers who have a pre-existing disability or impairment at the time of a subsequent, work-related industrial injury. The purpose of this fund is to encourage employers to hire workers with disabilities by limiting their possible liability for future injuries — while still providing injured employees with the benefits they need.

SIBTF provides additional benefits to workers when they meet certain qualifications:

  • An employee is permanently partially disabled
  • The employee receives a subsequent permanent partial disability because of a workplace injury
  • The combined effect of the new injury and the previous impairment results in a permanent disability of at least 70 percent

In addition, a new injury must account for at least 35 percent of the total injury, or the previous impairment must have affected a hand, arm, foot, leg or eye while the new disability affects the opposite, corresponding member and accounts for at least five percent of the total injury. For example, if a worker has an impaired leg and sustains a new injury to the other leg, he or she is entitled to receive special benefits. However, the injury does not have to be directly to the opposite limb or eye. The worker could still obtain compensation if a back injury causes problems with the other leg.

Applying for benefits from California’s SIBTF can be a complicated process, but a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer can help you take the necessary steps to obtain all the benefits you qualify for.

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