Seeking workers’ compensation for the aggravation of a preexisting condition is not a straightforward process. As a result, understanding how these claims work is important for employees who find their medical conditions worsening due to employment-related challenges.
The primary challenge in these cases is proving that the work-related activity directly aggravated the preexisting condition. Unlike new injuries, where causation is often clear, proving the connection between work and the aggravation of an existing injury or illness can be a complex undertaking.
Why are these cases such a challenge?
A preexisting condition, in this context, refers to any medical issue an employee had before they sustained work-related harm. Theoretically, if a work-related activity exacerbates a preexisting condition, an affected employee is eligible for workers’ compensation. However, proving that work was to blame for the aggravation of the condition in question usually requires a lot of medical documentation and contextualizing so that insurance claims adjusters can’t blame other life activities for the aggravated symptoms.
The cornerstone of such a claim is robust medical evidence. This usually involves medical records and expert testimony demonstrating that work activity significantly worsened an employee’s preexisting condition. It’s not enough to show that the condition exists; the change or escalation in symptoms due to work conditions must be clearly documented. If an employer was aware of the preexisting condition at the time of hiring or the condition is common knowledge, this can sometimes strengthen an employee’s claim but it is not necessary for a favorable outcome.
Ultimately, aggravation claims tend to be complex and challenging to resolve. However, by seeking legal guidance, affected employees can place themselves in the strongest possible position for their benefits claims to be approved.