Following an on-the-job accident, accessing workers’ compensation benefits is an important way to maintain income while you recover. Yet if you have an ailment prior to your injury, it can significantly influence the outcome of your claim.
It is important to understand how preexisting conditions impact workplace injuries.
Knowing your rights
In New Jersey, your employer cannot deny your claim simply because you have a preexisting condition. However, compensation may only cover the portion of disability attributed to the workplace injury rather than the entire disability.
You may not choose your own doctor for your workers’ compensation evaluation and care. However, per the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development website, you can file a dispute if you feel the treatment you are receiving is inadequate.
Evaluating your injury
Seeking prompt medical attention after a workplace accident is important, especially when you have a preexisting condition. A full examination is necessary to distinguish between injuries resulting from the incident and your prior health. Your claim will be more successful if you clearly establish that what happened worsened your condition.
Be aware that employers and insurers may scrutinize medical records to determine if your current injury is clearly a result of the incident. They may also seek to establish that your preexisting ailment caused you to become injured at work.
Impacting your benefits
Unless there is a clear separation of your current injuries and your preexisting condition, it can be challenging to receive full compensation. If your workplace injury aggravated a current problem rather than causing a new, distinct ailment, a reduction in benefits is likely. If, instead, your injury is a result of your preexisting condition, the insurer may refuse to pay anything.
The interplay between preexisting conditions and workplace injuries requires careful consideration so you get a favorable outcome when filing a compensation claim.