Pre-Existing Conditions and Workers’ Comp
The law has held that an employee may prove that his injury was work related by establishing prior to the work injury, he was performing all the essential elements of his job and that after the work injury he was unable to perform the same duties and responsibilities following the work injury. Simply put, if the employee was in good health prior to the work injury and was in poor health after the injury, case law has found that evidence sufficient to prove a causal connection between the work injury and the employee’s injury.
Consequential Injuries After the Initial Work Injury May be Compensable
If an injured worker develops a second or subsequent injury as a result of his weakened condition because of the original work injury, or because of the medical treatment from the original work injury, the Courts have found that the workers’ compensation insurance company is responsible to pay for and provide benefits to the injured worker.
The most common way to prove a subsequent or consequential injury arose from the weakened condition resulting from the original work injury is the opinion testimony of the treating physician. Some orthopedic surgeons will testify that an injured worker who had a knee surgery altered the way he walks (gait) and that altered gait caused the other knee internal derangement. The workers’ compensation carrier would then have to provide benefits for the subsequent knee injury.