Let's say you were the quarterback of your football team back in high school. You hurt your knee in a bad accident and it never fully recovered. Recently, you tripped over something at work and landed on your bad knee. Normally, you would have been able to dust yourself off from a minor accident like this. However, your old injury flared up from the fall and caused you to feel severe pain. What now?
If you're an injured worker with a pre-existing condition, you may feel that your old injury makes you unable to file a New Jersey Workers' Compensation claim. This is not the case - you can absolutely file a claim. Everyone gets hurt at some point of his or her life, and you won't be penalized for your non-work related injuries. When your employer hires you, he takes you as he finds you. This means that you may be entitled to benefits if your job aggravates or worsens some pre-existing injury. The work accident does not have to be the direct cause of the condition. You may receive benefits that help cover your medical bills, pay for your lost time at work, or monetarily compensate you for your injuries.
There's no doubt that a pre-existing condition can complicate your Workers' Compensation claim. Your employer may try to show that your impairment was caused only by your pre-existing condition and not your work injury. The insurance company will also look closely through your medical records and history in hopes to deny your claim. It's important for you to be very specific and give accurate information to your doctor. Explain what the condition was like before the accident and describe how it has changed since then. Most importantly, be honest from the very beginning.
You will eventually be contacted by an insurance company representative who will ask for a recorded statement. It is a good idea to hire an experienced Workman's Comp attorney beforehand who can help you avoid making a statement that negatively impacts your case. You need someone on your side who understands NJ Workers' Compensation law and will protect your rights as an injured worker. What are you waiting for?