Can Existing Injuries Be Covered by Workers’ Comp?
Often we hear clients ask questions such as, “I’ve always had problems with my shoulder, but my existing problems have been made worse by my work injury. Can I get workman’s comp to cover my worsened condition?”
The answer is: Yes you can! The fact of the matter is, we all live real lives, and very few of us will go through life without incurring some kind of injury. Whether it be a back injury, shoulder injury, or knee injury, if you are hurt on the job and your existing condition is made worse by your work injury, then you should still be covered by workers’ comp.
Don’t allow someone to convince you that just because you have an existing problem, you should be denied workers’ comp. Cases relating to workers’ comp are clear on the issue. When a workplace injury makes a pre-existing but non-disabling condition become a disabling condition, you are eligible for workers’ comp benefits.
Be aware that it’s not uncommon to experience resistance from your insurance company. They’re not going to want to cover a condition that they view as potentially pre-existing. But you are entitled to your rights. If you have a pre-existing injury that has been made worse by a workplace injury, don’t hesitate to call an attorney.
Existing injuries that have been aggravated by a work injury may be covered by workers’ comp. Be sure to speak to an attorney to make sure you’re getting the benefits you deserve.
Don’t Let Your Insurance Company Control Your Care
Unfortunately, insurance companies nowadays often intimidate injured workers by reminding them that they—not you—have the “right to direct medical care.” In other words, your employer and the health insurance company on their plan have the power to decide which physician you should see.
To some extent, this is true, but there are exceptions. Keep in mind that in some circumstances employees can select the physician of his or her choice. You just need the right attorney to help you navigate the workers’ compensation process and understand what those exceptions are. If you’ve been injured on the job and need to see a physician, here are a few key points to consider:
Your insurance company is not your physician. Don’t empower them; empower yourself and your doctor. After all, you know best about your injury, and your doctor knows how to help you get better. He or she is the one who went to medical school, received the proper training, and understands the practice of medicine. Not your insurance company.
You have a right to the best medical care. If your doctor believes certain treatment is appropriate for you and the workman’s comp insurance company is refusing to pay, you and your doctor need to fight for the proper course of treatment.
Team up with your doctor to fight for your rights. Have your doctor detail in writing why he or she feels you need a particular treatment. Your attorney can then use this documentation to file a motion with the Industrial Commission, seeking approval for the recommended care.
Don’t allow yourself or your physician to get frustrated and give up. If the care you need is not being authorized or is being denied by an internal utilization review conducted in-house at the insurance company, keep fighting. Your health is worth the fight!
Oxner + Permar has won case after case in which it seemed that the employee was going to be bullied by the insurance company. We don’t let that happen. In workers’ compensation cases, we care about the employee who has been hurt on the job, and we know how to make sure that their rights are protected. And insurance companies know our reputation—as attorneys who don’t give up until they get the care that they deserve.
Kids Chance of North Carolina—College Scholarships for Families Who’ve Experienced Catastrophic Work Injuries
When a person is injured at work, the impact to the worker is huge, but the effects it can have on the family can be just as devastating. The income that you expected to earn is compromised, often making it difficult to pay rent and bills and to fund retirement and college savings. The financial loss to the family simply isn’t well compensated in the Workers’ Compensation system. This is particularly true for catastrophic injury and death cases in which the victims are unlikely to ever work again.
It is devastating to have your dreams and goals derailed by an injury. It is ten times worse when you feel your injury is hurting the future of your children. That’s why Oxner + Permar supports Kids’ Chance, a charitable organization offering college scholarships to the children of workers who were killed or catastrophically injured at work. As attorneys who care deeply about our clients’ well-being, we want to do everything we can to get the word out there about this important charity—especially because workers who suffer these types of injuries (and their families) have so many other things weighing on their minds.
If you know of a family who might qualify for a Kids’ Chance scholarship, please join us in spreading the word so that we can help as many people as possible through this wonderful charity. As a member of the board for Kids’ Chance of NC, Oxner + Permar is committed to getting the applications into the hands of those who need them. Please visit the Kids’ Chance website for more details.
Hezekiah Hardee’s father was seriously injured on the job, but through Kids’ Chance of NC, Hezekiah was able to earn a scholarship that made his dreams of attending college come true. Read his story