Workers’ comp is a right North Carolina workers have when they sustain a work injury. But sadly, most employers are constantly looking for loopholes to get out of paying their injured employees what they deserve. One of such loopholes is claiming that the injured worker has a pre-existing medical condition.
Thankfully, North Carolina work comp laws make provisions for pre-existing conditions. While not all pre-existing conditions qualify, some do, and we’ll look at them in this article. We’ll also look at when you can file workers’ comp despite having a pre-existing condition.
If your employer denies you work comp because of an ongoing ailment, you should take action immediately. Our Charlotte work comp lawyers at Waple & Houk can help you get the compensation you deserve. There are strict deadlines to filing work comp claims in North Carolina, so take action quickly.
Can You File a Workers’ Comp Claim With a Pre-Existing Condition?
Generally, employers hire workers without knowledge of a pre-existing work condition. This is because most people fail to divulge such information for fear of not getting hired. As such, workers’ compensation does not cover pre-existing work conditions. However, it can if a job-related accident or ailment worsened the pre-existing condition.
The preceding is sometimes called an “aggravated” or “re-aggravated” injury. An excellent example of this is chronic back pain. While it is familiar to most adults, it becomes a compensable injury if you slip and fall at work and suffer a herniated disc. Here, you’ll be able to file a work comp claim.
Furthermore, heart disease can complicate recovery time. So, imagine a worker with back pain also has a job function that puts pressure on their heart. Then, after suffering from a herniated disc, they will need more time to recover than people without any complications.
Can Your Employer Deny Your Workers’ Comp Claim for a Pre-Existing Condition?
Ordinarily, your employer is not entitled to your complete medical history unless the job specifics demands it. For example, someone who wants to work on a bee farm must not have any allergy to bees. If they do, they must indicate when applying for the job for the employer to decide whether to hire them or not.
Even if an employer does not request your medical history, North Carolina law requires that you indicate any pre-existing condition while filling the work comp form. However, the downside is that such an indication gives your employer and their insurer the excuse to deny your claim. The question, therefore, is whether this denial is valid or not.
The denial will be valid if you cannot show that a work-related accident resulted in your injury and aggravated the pre-existing condition. Conversely, it will be invalid if you can prove the connection. Here, you’ll need solid medical evidence tying the work accident to the aggravated injury.
This is why we recommend that North Carolina workers work with a workers’ comp lawyer. You should consult one before submitting your workers’ compensation claim. Do this within the 30 days window you have to inform your employer of your injury.
What Pre-Existing Condition Might Qualify for Workers’ Comp in NC?
Several pre-existing conditions qualify for workers’ compensation in North Carolina. Below are some of them.
Back problems are one of the most common workplace injuries. It is more prevalent in industries where employees have to do the heavy lifting, like construction and manufacturing. Thus, it is quite easy for back injuries to become re-aggravated. Thankfully, the law around back injuries has developed to the point that it is easier to prove than other workplace wounds.
Repetitive Strain Injuries:
A repetitive strain injury builds over time and results from years of over-exertion and minor trauma. The most common type is carpal tunnel syndrome for those who perform computer-intensive tasks. So, even if it takes years to surface, workers can still get workers’ compensation for it.
Arthritis and Other Degenerative Diseases:
Like repetitive strain injuries, medical conditions like arthritis develop over time. So, just because they do not appear immediately does not mean you can’t get compensation for them. Similarly, diabetics, cancer, and other pre-existing ailments may not directly relate to your job, but you could get benefits for them if they keep you from returning to work.
Was Your Workers’ Comp Claim Denied? Get Help From Waple & Houk Work Comp Lawyers!
It’s hard enough to deal with a work injury and not being able to return to work. So, you shouldn’t have to deal with a claim denial because of a pre-existing condition. Our Charlotte work comp lawyers at Waple & Houk can help you get what you deserve while you recuperate. Contact us today for a free case review.