What If I Had a Pre-existing Condition Before My Work Injury?
Changes In Workers’ Compensation Laws Since 2003
There have been changes in Florida Workers’ Compensation laws since October 1, 2003 that include a new definition of what ‘pre-existing conditions’ are. Generally, these are medical conditions that you had prior to the workplace injury or occupational illness that you filed your workers’ compensation claim for. The new definition allows for these conditions
to be considered in determining the outcome of your workers’ compensation claim.
The most important thing to know is that the new definition specifies that the pre-existing condition contribute to at least 51% of your medical needs or disability instead of simply predisposing you to that need for treatment and/or disability. The law calls this the Major Contributing Cause, and many insurance carriers use this to deny claims for compensation. However, that does not mean that your claim has been rightfully denied. Contact an attorney to discuss whether this denial is correct and whether you should pursue your case.
Do You Know Your Rights?
If you aren’t aware of your rights and don’t fully understand the differences in the new law, then you can find yourself in a challenging situation when your claim is denied for prior injuries that don’t even relate to the workplace injuries that you’ve sustained. There is an Industrial Injury section of the law that states that you must receive a diagnosis or medical treatment prior to the claimed condition, except in occupational disease claims. If your insurance company wrongly denies your claim because of differences in the wording of the law, then you need an attorney on your side.
New Law Definition Of Pre-Existing Condition
A pre-existing condition can be any kind of illness, injury, or disorder that contributes to your treatment needs and/or disability. With the new definition, in workers’ compensation claims, the alleged pre-existing condition is not counted as contributing to these treatment needs and/or disabilities if they only make you more susceptible to injury.
Burden of Proof
Whichever party in a legal dispute is tasked with the responsibility of presenting evidence to prove their side of the case is the party with the burden of proof. You have to prove that you have suffered a work injury that is compensable with workers’ compensation, which you will be more successful with if you have professional legal assistance. The workplace injury must be the major contributing cause of your treatment needs and/or disability to be a compensable injury.
If you have an illness or infection that is caused by workplace activities or substances that you are exposed to at work (and not elsewhere), then this is an occupational disease. It must require medical attention and/or result in death or disability to be compensable with workers’ compensation. These types of illnesses can result from any kind of harmful substance that is ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through contact. Mental disorders, traumatic events and other issues can be caused by this.
Because the Workers’ Compensation laws in Florida have been changed, the employee must demonstrate that his or her current injury meets the 51% requirement if there is a pre-existing injury, disability or condition. If your injury is serious and your case is important to you, then you should contact an attorney to fight for your right to Workers’ Compensation.