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Pre-existing Conditions and Illinois Workers' Compensation
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Many injured workers believe they’re not eligible for workers’ compensation because they already had a pre-existing condition. If your job causes an old injury to flare up or makes a previous injury worse, you should still have a valid claim. If you’re told otherwise, you may not be getting the truth.
Under Illinois workers’ compensation law, pre-existing conditions do not disqualify you. If you job duties aggravated or accelerated your injury, you are entitled to benefits. Available benefits include payment for a portion of your lost wages, 100% medical coverage, and other benefits depending on your injury and whether it’s permanent.
For example, let’s say you suffered a back injury in a car accident ten years ago, you were treated and you recovered. Then at work one day, you lift a box and re-injure your back. You can’t work for months and you end up needing surgery. This should all be covered under workers’ compensation, even though a pre-existing condition made you more susceptible to the injury.
Another common example is carpal tunnel syndrome. A woman who called us had previously been treated for carpal tunnel and wore a brace. After working back to back 14 hour days she had a flare up and needed medical treatment. She was in Champaign, and the Urbana workers’ compensation lawyers we referred her to were successful in getting her workers’ compensation benefits.
We generally look at whether you have been treated in the past for the condition and how recently. If your pre-existing injury is only temporarily aggravated, it may be harder to get compensation.
The key is documentation. When you visit your doctor, make sure you are clear about how the injury happened and how it has affected your pre-existing condition. Has it made your pain worse? Has it decreased your mobility or range of motion? Be specific. If a credible doctor will put in writing that your job aggravated or accelerated your pre-existing condition, you should get benefits. Medical records, like MRI results and x-rays, can be used to prove that an injury has worsened.
Do not let your employer, or their workers’ compensation insurance company, tell you that you are not eligible. It is in their best interest to deny your claim because it costs them money. However, it’s money that you, as a worker, may be entitled to.
We usually recommend hiring an attorney to represent you and negotiate with the insurance company. In our experience, you’ll have much better luck. Even if you are receiving benefits without a problem, the insurance adjuster may not be telling you about all the benefits you could be getting.
If you’d like our opinion on your situation, including whether you should be entitled to benefits despite a pre-existing condition, please do not hesitate to contact us.