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Workers’ Compensation – What About Previous Injuries?

On Behalf of | Sep 8, 2017 | Worker's Compensation

Assume you are pulling a heavier piece of inventory, you twist awkwardly and injure your lower back. For the next few weeks not only are you prohibited from lifting the heavy inventory, but you can’t work at all because it is painful to walk and stand.

Under Iowa law, these circumstances alone are clearly enough for a workers’ compensation claim. However, does anything change if this at-work incident was an aggravation of a prior back injury?

For example, two years before taking this job, you had a minor back injury. You no longer had daily pain from this earlier injury, but from time-to-time there was a small twinge in your lower back. Now you can’t get out of bed. This can complicate your workers’ compensation claim in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and raises a lot of new questions for an injured worker. You are probably wondering, “do I tell my employer and the workers’ compensation insurance provider about this old injury?”

Honesty Is Always the Best Policy

In all aspects of a workers’ compensation case, an individual should provide accurate and truthful information. In most instances, an employer or the insurance provider will discover evidence of any deceit or lies. This can complicate and taint your workers’ compensation claim more than telling an inconvenient or unhelpful truth. Once your character is in question before the Iowa Division of Workers’ Compensation, other aspects of the case are scrutinized and mistrusted.  The injured employee’s credibility is crucial.

That being said, there is a difference between accurate information and honesty on one hand, and providing unrequested or unsolicited information to an employer or insurance provider. Give truthful answers to a representative from either of these parties, but keep responses concise and on topic. If a workers’ compensation claim in Council Bluffs is contested, it can be invaluable to have an attorney present when speaking with your employer or an insurance company.

Effect of an Old Injury on Your Claim

Be honest about an old injury.  It is generally unlikely to affect your workers’ compensation claim in Iowa. To qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in Council Bluffs the work activity, such as lifting and twisting, must be a substantial factor in your injury. It does not have to be the only factor.

Aggravating an old injury or pre-existing condition still entitles you to receive workers’ compensation. What you need to show is that your reinjured yourself while engaged in a work related activity. This evidence begins by following proper reporting and notice policies. As soon as possible after an injury you should inform your employer of the occurrence. Ignoring or avoiding reporting requirements can make it more difficult or impossible to receive benefits.

Some employers or insurance companies may provide inaccurate and misinformed advice when they learn of a pre-existing condition or old injury. This can include trying to convince an injured employee that these circumstances negate workers’ compensation benefits in Iowa or offering a very low settlement because of a previous injury.  Ask an attorney about the issues.  Claims adjusters and employer human resource departments are not licensed to practice law.

If a workers’ compensation claim is delayed or denied because of a previous injury, your best allies will be a good workers’ compensation attorney and your medical professionals. What your doctor or a specialist says about your injury is crucial. If a doctor diagnoses your injury as exacerbated, accelerated, or aggravated by work-related activity, then the path to receiving benefits is much smoother.

Speaking with Legal Professionals

Handling a disputed workers’ compensation case on your own is difficult. There are both procedural and substantive requirements that can impede your case or obstruct a positive outcome, even if you are entitled to benefits in Iowa.

Experienced workers’ compensation attorney, Walter Thomas, and the entire legal team at Telpner Peterson Law Firm are prepared to handle complicated or contentious workers’ compensation cases. To arrange a complimentary initial consultation with our office simply call 712-309-3738.