Georgia Workers’ Compensation: What If You Were Sick or Disabled Before Your Injury?
Pre-existing conditions can quickly complicate otherwise straightforward Georgia workers’ compensation cases. The presence of a pre-existing condition won’t necessarily bar you from receiving the benefits you want, but you will need extensive documentation indicating that your job exacerbated the condition and led to greater suffering.
Burden of Proving That the Workplace Incident Worsened the Condition
Employees afflicted with pre-existing conditions may be eligible for workers’ compensation if workplace duties lead to more severe symptoms. But your employer is only responsible for the worsening of your condition — not the condition itself. You may be similarly entitled to damages if a previous workplace injury was re-aggravated at your present job. In such cases, the claim amount may be lowered to accommodate previous workers’ compensation claims.
The Workers’ Compensation Act and Pre-Existing Conditions
Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Act significantly limits the extent to which employees with pre-existing conditions can seek compensation; compensation is only available when work-related aggravation causes the disability. Once an employee returns to pre-injury condition, the Workers’ Compensation Act mandates that compensation cease.
Recent changes in legislation have limited compensation for re-aggravated conditions to 400 weeks from the date of the accident, although lifetime medical benefits may be available for catastrophic injuries or those that occurred before June 30, 2013.
Providing Appropriate Documentation
Whether your pre-existing condition occurred at work or in some other capacity, you will need to document your previous injury and the impact it had on your life prior to your most recent workplace injury. Decrease your likelihood of a workers’ compensation denial by seeking documentation from your physician or from federal agencies that provided previous workers’ comp benefits. Supplement this with proof of your current disability, including recent tests and medical records. If employer-approved physicians deny your condition, seek further feedback from an independent medical professional.
If you’ve suffered a worsening of a pre-existing condition in the workplace, contact Smith, Wallis & Scott, LLP today to learn more about filing for workers’ compensation.