Needing to make a workers compensation claim can be a complicated and overwhelming process at the best of times without the proper help. There are so many factors at play, and the claim being successfully granted can be life changing for some. Where things can get complicated however, is when a person has a pre-existing medical condition. Here we will talk you through what aggravation of pre-existing conditions means for workers compensation, and what claim you can make.
What is Workers Compensation for?
If a worker becomes injured or sick during the course of their work, they are eligible to make a compensation claim. These claims exist to cover at a minimum the lost wages the worker would have received had they not become ill or injured, and in some cases depending on the severity of the injury will also extend to cover medical or rehabilitation costs associated with their ailment. So, simply put, workers compensation exists to mitigate financial losses the worker would experience as a result of their work injury.
What Does it Mean to Have a Pre-existing Condition?
Pre-existing conditions can happen to many of us, and lots of workers have them. From medical conditions people are born with, to childhood injuries that occur as a result of sports or even accidents. These conditions can be prone to ‘flaring up’ if they are aggravated, or their nature could be accelerated as a result of working.
Do I have to Disclose my Pre-existing Medical Condition?
The need for disclosure of pre-existing injuries or medical conditions can vary depending on circumstances, and failure to do so can impact your ability to make a workers compensation claim. During the normal hiring or recruitment process, your employer will ask if you have any pre-existing injuries or medical conditions you think may affect your work. If you do not disclose the appropriate information at this stage before you are officially hired this may prevent you from being able to lodge a claim. In other cases, an employer may hire you without asking for a medical history in which case you are still entitled to make a claim for compensation if the need to do so arises.
Generally, if you have disclosed your pre-existing injury or medical condition to your employer, you should be entitled to a workers compensation claim where work was a significant contributing factor.
So, What About Making a Workers Compensation Claim with a Pre-existing Injury?
Even if you have followed procedures around disclosure of pre-existing injuries or medical conditions there is still a level of proof you have to provide to successfully win a workers compensation claim.
When making a claim with a pre-existing injury, you have to show that your work has been a significant contributing factor towards the condition, which has been aggravated, accelerated or exacerbated as a result of your work.
There are several things you can do to help ensure your claim has the best chance possible of being successful.
One of the most important steps is keeping medical records: having ongoing documentation of your injury, its severity and any changes in it since commencing your employment are an important part of demonstrating the impact your work has had on the injury. These can include reports or assessments from medical professionals.
Making WorkCover claims while having a pre-existing injury or illness can be complicated as there is a chance the claim will be unsuccessful or dismissed given the history of the illness, and demonstrating the significant impact work has had on it can be challenging.
Keeping medical records, ensuring your employer is aware of the condition before work and having a legal team look over your application can help ensure you submit the best possible claim. This in turn gives you a higher chance of being successful.
GC Law provides free consultations, contact us today for a review or to speak with a qualified lawyer who can help explain your options.