If you live in the Lehigh Valley Area of Pennsylvania or the Warren and Hunterdon County area in New Jersey, chances are you are an active person. Statistically, with all active people, there most often will be some injury to a body part. Whether you are at a picnic and trip, or at a sports game and bump your knee, injuries happen all the time. You may have even gotten treatment for the injury. If you have suffered an injury in the past and further injure that same body part at work, does Workers Compensation have to cover your injury? Can your employer deny the claim and say it is Pre-Existing?
It depends. Whether you work in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, both states’ workers compensation laws cover employees with pre-existing injuries. However, the new work injury must be a material aggravation or exacerbation of your past condition. In both states, the Workers Compensation Court will consider the time gap between the last time you treated for your previous injury, the matter or mechanism of the current injury (how you exactly got hurt), and the opinion of medical professionals (who will compare your past diagnostics and current diagnostics).
All too often, a worker will tell his or her co-employees of a past ailment or injury, such as a chronic low back pain in passing. When that worker suffers a new accident, such as lifting a heavy box and feels a low back pop with intense onset of new pain, the worker will attempt to report the injury. The supervisor or boss will immediately blame the prior condition for the current symptoms. Your supervisor or boss will often inform the workers compensation carrier that you had a prior condition.
The laws in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania allow an injured employee to receive both medical benefits and money benefits for work injuries which materially aggravate or exacerbate a prior diagnosed condition including arthritis. These cases tend to be complex and require medical testimony comparing the pre-accident baseline symptoms and the post-accident symptoms. If you find yourself in such a situation, please contact our office to discuss your rights in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
THE FOREGOING IS A GENERAL DISCUSSION OF THE LAW AND IS NOT TO BE CONSIDERED LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOUR HAVE A SPECIFIC QUESTION, PLEASE CONTACT OUR OFFICE AND SPEAK WITH AN ATTORNEY TODAY.