Some people think that having a pre-existing condition will keep them from pursuing a workers’ compensation claim. The workers’ compensation laws in South Carolina are designed to put you back in the position you were in prior to the workers’ compensation accident. If an accident made an existing health condition or injury worse, forcing you to miss time from work, and/or cause you to incur new medical treatment and expenses, then you have the right to benefits to recover from your injuries.
This is not necessarily an uncommon scenario. For example, as people age, they suffer from a variety of health issues. If they are in an auto accident and their health worsens, they aren’t left without any legal protection. The victim would be entitled to reimbursement for their medical expenses and other related expenses incurred due to the negligence of the other party. This is the same theory applied to workers’ compensation claims in South Carolina. A worker should not be punished because they had an existing injury.
What if the Pre-Existing Injury is Degenerative?
If you have something like arthritis and the work injury makes it worse, then the employer still has to cover it. Your medical provider should include his or her opinion that the injury aggravated existing arthritis.
What About Injuries that resulted in a Permanent Physical Impairment Rating?
Workers who previously received a permanent physical impairment rating may also be eligible for workers’ compensation coverage, provided the new injury meets the requirements set forth by South Carolina laws.
Proving the Workers’ Compensation-Related Injury Aggravated a Pre-Existing Condition
You must prove the injury aggravated a pre-existing condition. This must be done by a preponderance of the evidence. This typically means that the aggravation was more likely than not, or at least 51 percent, caused by the new injury. You can use a variety of methods to prove your case, including witnesses, medical opinions, and experts.
What to Do if Your Claim Is Denied
If your workers’ compensation claim is denied due to the pre-existing condition, it’s important to speak to your treatment providers. It’s necessary to get your treating physician’s opinion that the work accident more than likely caused your pre-existing injury to become worse. Your physician should note that it is his or her opinion “to a reasonable degree of medical certainty.”
Also, you need to speak with a skilled Rock Hill workers’ compensation attorney. Working with an experienced South Carolina workers compensation attorney who has encountered denials for pre-existing conditions is the best course of action. At the Elrod Pope Law Firm., we have almost 40 years of experience helping clients throughout Rock Hill and neighboring areas of South Carolina.
Retaining a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you have a pre-existing condition and were involved in a work-related accident, it’s important to contact our office today. Call us at 803-599-3080 to schedule an initial consultation.
Thomas E. Pope is a Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice Attorney who practices in Rock Hill, Lake Wylie, and Lancaster, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 31 years now. Thomas E. Pope believes in protecting the injured. Learn more about his experience here.