Aggravation of Pre-existing Injury

For over 20 years, the Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers at Kantrovitz & Associates have leveled the playing field for injured workers across the state. We believe that you should have a fighting chance to prove your case and recover the benefits you deserve. This often requires skilled advocates to match the legal team behind the employer and insurers denying your claim. If they come armed with lawyers, so should you. Kantrovitz & Associates delivers unparalleled representation in Massachusetts disability law.

Pre-Existing Conditions

A pre-existing condition is an injury or illness that precedes a workplace accident. Insurance providers frequently use this argument to deny workers’ compensation benefits, claiming that work did not cause the injury. Always concerned with their bottom line, employers and insurers try to prove that workers already suffered from injuries clearly sustained at work. In fact, a pre-existing condition is the number one basis for denial of workers’ compensation claims. But if you were denied benefits for this reason, seek legal counsel to defend your rights. Even if you had a pre-existing condition, it most likely did not cause your job-related injury. More often than not, work played a major part in aggravating or exacerbating the injury. Common conditions made worse by work include:

  • Carpal tunnel
  • Neck and back pain
  • Anxiety, depression
  • Foot and ankle injury
  • Shoulder and upper extremity injury
  • Knee and lower extremity injury
  • Loss of hearing, vision
  • Repetitive stress fractures
  • Mental, psychiatric issues
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Muscular degenerative disease

A pre-existing condition is not a reason to deny compensation, because an injury sustained at work is presumed to be job-related. A construction worker already suffering from back pain is still capable of sustaining severe injury while being crushed by a beam. A workplace accident, such as a chemical spill, leak, or fire, is still the major cause of injury, even if the worker already suffered from an unrelated illness. These workers still deserve compensation for their harm.

Aggravation of Pre-Existing Injury

Massachusetts law requires employers to provide compensation for any workplace injury that significantly aggravates the pre-existing condition. Benefits are also required where the pre-existing condition combines with a current workplace injury that creates a need for extended disability or treatment. Whenever the job injury is a “major” cause of harm, the worker is entitled to benefits. Exacerbated injuries and work-related causes of disability may be shown through:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Required emergency care
  • Need for medical treatment
  • Prolonged, extended disability
  • Injury requiring continued care
  • Inability to handle regular duties
  • Involuntary loss of former position
  • Restricted work hours, lower wages
  • Physical limitations requiring job change

Incidents at work that directly result in injury, aggravate a pre-existing condition, or combine with a prior illness to prolong disability all qualify as a “major” causes of harm. A “major” cause does not have to be the predominant or even the primary contributor to the harm. For example, in one Massachusetts case, the court concluded that a worker was still entitled to benefits where a pre-existing condition caused 60 percent of his injuries, while work only contributed 40 percent. The court found that this was sufficient for the work injury to remain a major cause of disability or need for extended treatment.

Challenging Denials Based on Pre-Existing Condition

Successfully challenging denials based on previous injury requires a thorough understanding of workers’ compensation law. The Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorneys at Kantrovitz & Associates know the nuances and supporting evidence required to prove your claim. If you were wrongfully denied benefits, Massachusetts law also requires that the insurer pay most of the attorneys’ fees and court costs. At Kantrovitz & Associates, we personally handle every case, giving clients the individual attention and respect they deserve. We believe you should play an active role, not be a bystander, in your own case. Our Boston office is proud to represent injured workers in Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Middlesex, and Plymouth Counties. Call (800) 367-0871 for a free consultation or contact us online.