Navigating a workers’ compensation claim is a complicated task, and having a preexisting condition can make receiving the compensation you deserve even more difficult. Thankfully, Nebraska law is on your side, and our workers’ comp lawyers at Dyer Law work hard to preserve your rights. If your preexisting condition has been aggravated by a work-related injury, you are protected under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act—regardless of what your employer or their insurer might tell you.
What Is a Preexisting Condition?
In the context of workers’ compensation, the term “preexisting condition” describes any disease, injury, or health issue affecting an employee prior to a work-related injury. Some examples of preexisting conditions include orthopedic problems (like arthritis or knee pain), neck or back pain, and even asthma or heart conditions.
How Do Preexisting Conditions Complicate Workers’ Comp Claims?
Insurance companies will often use documented preexisting injuries to justify their denial of otherwise sound claims. Nebraska’s workers’ compensation laws do not cover the “natural progression” of preexisting conditions, but they do protect against any aggravation, acceleration, or exacerbation of preexisting conditions.
If a preexisting condition is inflamed by “ordinary exertion” at work, it generally isn’t considered aggravation of the pre-existing condition nor compensable under Nebraska law. For example, if you have preexisting arthritis in your knee and experience pain occasionally walking around your office, you may not be entitled to compensation since this may be considered an example of your condition’s natural progression.
If a documented workplace accident worsens a preexisting medical condition, this may be considered aggravation of the injury and therefore covered under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act. For example, if you have preexisting arthritis in your knee and you fall from a four-foot ladder and need a knee replacement, this may be covered as an aggravation of a preexisting disease.
If your preexisting condition was exacerbated by a work-related incident, be sure to seek medical treatment as soon as possible and discuss your preexisting condition transparently. Ensuring that your doctor documents your preexisting condition—and how your workplace injury contributed to its worsening—will be crucial to forming a successful workers’ compensation claim.
What Should I Do If My Workers’ Comp Claim Is Denied?
Workers’ comp denials are common, but fortunately, they are not final. If you’re wondering what to do if your workers’ comp claim is denied, we recommend consulting an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your injury and your case as a whole.
For short answers to other frequently asked questions about workers’ compensation in Nebraska, visit the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court website. To learn more about Dyer Law’s approach to workers’ compensation, visit https://dyer.law/practice-areas/workers-compensation/ or call (402) 393-7529 for your free consultation.