When becoming injured on the job, receiving workers compensation may seem like a no-brainer. However, it's not always so black and white. If you have re-injured an old injury at work, you may be worried about your workers' compensation claim. The process may be difficult because several factors could determine your eligibility for workers compensation. Here are some questions you need to ask yourself about your injury.
Were you previously on workers' comp for the same injury?
If your old injury caused you to collect workers' compensation in the past, your claim may be a little different this time around. If you injury isn't any worse than it was the last time, you may not be able to receive any workers' compensation benefits. If your injury is worse, you may only receive benefits for the percentage of increased damaged. For example, if your injury was worth a $10,000 impairment claim and now it is worth a $14,000 claim, it's possible you'll only receive the difference of $4,000.
Did your employer know about your condition?
If you lied about your condition to do a certain job or do certain work within a job, it may hurt your chances of receiving workers' comp benefits. However, if you fully disclosed all of your physical ailments when beginning or job or as soon as they started, you will likely receive your benefits.
Can you prove your work aggravated your injury?
If your injury is something that can just flair-up on occasion, you don't have a very strong case. However, if you can prove that your work-related movements or an accident that occurred at work injured you, then you have a good chance of winning a workers' compensation case.
The best thing that you can do is have a doctor write a statement along with your medical records. The statement should include:
- A synopsis of your old injury
- A synopsis of your new injury
- How your job affected your injury
Ensure your doctor includes the fact that you were not aware that your job could affect your old injury.
How long ago did you become injured?
If you injured yourself at work, decided to tough it out for a while, and realized it was a bad idea, you may have hurt your case. Just about everything related to law has a statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is the amount of time allowed to pass before you file a claim or lawsuit.
Workers' compensation is run by the state, therefore, the statute of limitations differs depending on the state that you live in. If you live in Wisconsin, you have the longest time frame. Wisconsin's statute of limitations is a whopping 12 years. In California, you have one year from your injury to file your claim.
Appealing a Denial
If you have been denied workers ' compensation, you can appeal the decision. First, find out exactly why your claim was denied to make sure that your pre-existing condition was the reason. Sometimes people's claims are denied because of something simple such as a piece of forgotten paperwork. If you do need to appeal start by having a worker's compensation attorney write a formal letter to the insurer. Sometimes asking them to reconsider can make a difference.
If the insurer refuses to reconsider the denial, your attorney will file a formal appeal. The appeal needs to be filed within the statute of limitations for your state.
If you have injured yourself at work, you deserve to be compensated so you can pay your bills while you heal. If you're fighting for workers' compensation because you have re-injured an old injury, make sure you have a lawyer so you can receive everything that you deserve. As long as your employer is liable and your claim is within the statute of limitations for your state, it shouldn't be an issue.