Aggravation of Pre-Existing Conditions
California’s workers’ compensation laws provide that employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, with very few exceptions. An injury natcan include an aggravation of a pre-existing condition. Workers’ compensation claims involving the aggravation of an existing injury or illness are generally more complicated than claims in which the employee was healthy at the time that he or she sustained an injury or illness. If you suffered a work-related aggravation of a pre-existing condition, it may be in your best interest to retain an experienced Orange County workers’ compensation lawyer to assist you in recovering the benefits that you are owed. The attorneys at the Law Office of Joseph Richards are adept in helping people who have suffered a workplace aggravation of a pre-existing condition obtain workers’ compensation benefits, and we may be able to advocate vigorously on your behalf.Examples of Covered Pre-Existing Conditions
A pre-existing condition is any injury or illness that affected an employee prior to a workplace accident or exposure to harmful conditions. Examples of pre-existing conditions include arthritis, heart disease, herniated discs, and mental health disorders. In California, employers are required to provide workers’ compensation benefits to all covered employees, regardless of the employee’s health at the time that he or she began working. A workers’ compensation insurer may not deny a claim on the basis that a workplace condition or accident would not have resulted in an injury to a healthy employee who did not have a pre-existing condition.Aggravation Versus Exacerbation
An issue that often arises in workers’ compensation claims filed due to the aggravation of a pre-existing condition is whether the employee sustained a new injury or is merely experiencing symptoms of a previous injury. While the terms “aggravation” and “exacerbation” are often interchangeable in everyday language, under California workers’ compensation law, they have very different meanings. An aggravation of a pre-existing condition constitutes a new injury or illness. Under California law, an aggravation exists if the condition or injury causes the employee to sustain a temporary or permanent increase in his or her disability or causes a new need for medical treatment or a change in the employee’s current treatment plan. For example, if an employee who has degenerative disc disease that makes him or her more prone to spinal injuries suffers a herniated disc after lifting heavy materials at work, he or she has sustained an aggravation.
Conversely, if an employee has a pre-existing condition and merely suffers a work-related flare up or worsening of symptoms, it is considered an exacerbation, which is not a new injury, opposed to an aggravation. For example, if an employee suffering from arthritis experiences increased pain on occasion, which would occur regardless of whether the employee was engaged in any work activities, it would likely constitute an exacerbation. Pursuing workers’ compensation benefits for an aggravation of a pre-existing condition can be a daunting and complicated process. If you suffered a work-related aggravation of a pre-existing condition, you should seek the assistance of a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer to ensure that your claim is properly evaluated.Benefits That You may be Entitled to Recover
If you sustained an aggravation of a pre-existing condition, you may be entitled to recover the cost of any medical treatment needed due to the aggravation, including any new prescriptions, occupational or physical therapy, and adaptive devices. You may also be able to recover disability benefits. A disability may be temporary, meaning that it is expected to improve, or permanent, meaning that the employee has reached maximal medical improvement for the injury. Disabilities are also classified as total, meaning that the employee is unable to work, or partial, meaning that the employee can work at a reduced capacity.
If you are temporarily disabled, you may receive temporary disability benefits for up to 104 weeks. Disability benefits for temporary partial disabilities may be paid at a rate of two-thirds of the difference between the amount of your average weekly wage before the disability and your average weekly wage after the disability. Disability benefits for permanent disabilities may be paid at a rate of two-thirds of your average weekly wage earned before the disability. If you are permanently disabled, you may receive a permanent disability rating, which is assessed by using a variety of factors, including your age, occupation, and skill level. The amount of permanent disability benefits that you receive depends on your permanent disability rating.Get Advice From a Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Orange County
The attorneys at the Law Office of Joseph Richards have substantial experience in helping injured employees recover the workers’ compensation benefits that they are rightfully owed. Our offices are located in Orange and Riverside Counties, and we represent injured employees in Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, Anaheim, Irvine, Moreno Valley, Corona, Temecula, El Centro, Long Beach, San Bernardino, Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga, and San Diego. We also assist claimants in additional cities in Orange County, as well as Riverside, Imperial, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and San Diego Counties. We may aggressively advocate on your behalf to help you pursue benefits. Contact us at (844) 562-2667 or via our online form to set up a consultation.