As a general rule, an injured worker can seek workers’ compensation benefits even if they has a pre-existing injury or illness. The pre-existing injury or illness does not have to be work-related; the injured worker could have developed the injury or illness in some other way. However, the pre-existing injury could have an impact on the injured worker’s workers’ compensation claim depending on where in or on the body the pre-existing injury or illness is in relation to the new work-related injury or illness.
New Injury Is Different From The Pre-Existing Injury
When a new work-related injury or illness happens to a body part or system that is different from the body part or system that has the pre-existing injury or illness, there is less chance that the pre-existing injury or illness will have an impact on the injured worker’s workers’ compensation claim. The injuries are clearly separate and affect the injured worker in different ways. If there is no causal link between the pre-existing injury or illness and the new work-related injury or illness, an injured worker should have no trouble demonstrating that the pre-existing injury did not play a factor in causing the new work-related injury or illness.
New Injury Aggravates The Pre-Existing Injury
If an injured worker’s employer provides employees with workers’ compensation insurance coverage, and the injured worker suffered a work-related injury or illness, then the injury is compensable under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act. This includes coverage for injuries that are an aggravation of a pre-existing injury or illness, where the injured worker can show that there has been some degree of acceleration, worsening or enhancement of an underlying condition from the new work-related injury or illness.
Making a workers’ compensation claim based on an aggravation of a pre-existing injury or illness can be challenging, since the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider will likely try to blame the aggravation of the pre-existing injury or illness on that condition itself, rather than something that happened while the injured worker was on the clock.
Injured workers must provide evidence that it was not the pre-existing injury itself that prompted the aggravation, but rather some work-related aspect of their employment that made the pre-existing condition worse.
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