Our Durham Job Accident Law Firm Explains Pre-Existing Injuries in North Carolina Workers’ Comp Cases
Not every injury that occurs on the job is an entirely new injury. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that you may be entitled to workers’ comp benefits even if you aggravated or re-injured an old injury. However, these claims can be complicated and often result in a denial. Our Durham job accident law firm can help you navigate the process so that you can get the benefits you need.
Generally, workers’ compensation covers a pre-existing injury or condition that was aggravated by a workplace accident. In other words, workers’ comp should pay benefits if you re-injure or aggravate a pre-existing injury. However, you still must meet the criteria that normally apply to workers’ comp claims:
- You suffered an injury “by accident,” and
- The accident arose out of and in the course of your employment.
Many claims get denied because the insurance carrier alleges that the injury did not occur at work, such as with a pre-existing injury. If you’re unsure whether you qualify, an attorney at our Durham job accident law firm can give you an opinion about whether a claim would be successful.
Your Medical Exam is Especially Important After a Work Injury
Just like with any workers’ comp claim, the initial medical evidence documenting the injury will be critical. If you have a pre-existing injury that has been aggravated by a workplace accident, it is important that you take the medical exam very seriously. Our Durham job accident law firm recommends that you take the following steps:
- Disclose your pre-existing injury or condition. If it later comes to light that you failed to disclose your prior injury, it may affect how the Industrial Commission assesses your credibility.
- Be as specific as possible about how the injury occurred. The more information you provide to the doctor, the better able the doctor will be able to explain the nature and extent of your injury for the record.
- Emphasize that you have re-injured or aggravated your pre-existing injury. You should honestly explain the status of your pre-existing injury to the doctor, including explaining whether the prior injury had been treated and healed or was at least being managed.
- Make sure your medical records reflect that you have re-injured or aggravated a prior injury. You do not want the Industrial Commission to deny your claim because they think you are attempting to claim benefits for a pre-existing injury.
A workers’ comp attorney at our Durham job accident law firm can help you prepare for your exam and review your records afterward. Getting an attorney involved at the outset can save you considerable time later.
Pre-existing Injuries and Conditions That Routinely Qualify for Workers’ Comp in North Carolina
Despite popular opinion, there are many pre-existing injuries that qualify for workers’ comp benefits. Some of the more common injuries are as follows:
- Repetitive stress injuries: These are injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome that develop over time because of repetitive motion. The fact that you previously received benefits for carpal tunnel syndrome doesn’t mean that you are disqualified from further benefits if it becomes a problem again in the future.
- Joint injuries: Knee, shoulder, elbow, or other joint injuries are routinely re-injured or aggravated at work. Don’t assume that you don’t qualify for benefits just because your knee has been problematic for years.
- Back injuries: Back injuries are perhaps the most common injury suffered by workers while on the job. Many of these injuries are aggravations of prior injuries, but this doesn’t mean that the injury is any less debilitating. Most pre-existing back injuries are covered by workers’ comp if you otherwise qualify for coverage.
Again, it’s important to remember that you will need to prove that the aggravation or re-injury was caused by doing your job. This can be very complicated when dealing with a pre-existing injury or condition. Our Durham job accident law firm can help you file a claim for the benefits you need.
How a Durham Job Accident Law Firm Can Help
The workers’ compensation system isn’t always easy to navigate. At a minimum, an experienced workers’ comp attorney will know how to get through the process as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Your lawyer can help you collect the documents you need to support your claim. They can make sure your medical records clearly indicate that this isn’t simply a prior work injury. And if your claim is denied, they can help you pursue an appeal. The goal is to help you get the benefits you need to recover from your injury.
Contact Martin and Jones Today
Our Durham job accident law firm has been helping injured workers get back on their feet since 1982. Whether you have had prior claims or are new to the workers’ compensation system, we can help you get the best results possible. To schedule a free consultation, email or call us at 800-662-1234 to learn more about how we can help. Our offices are located in Raleigh, Durham and Wilmington.