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Workers’ Compensation Rules: When an Old Injury Is a New Injury

Posted On Behalf of Schmidt Kramer Injury Lawyers on Jun 04, 2013 in Workers' Compensation

Insurance companies that handle workers’ compensation benefits on behalf of Pennsylvania employers will sometimes resort to half-truths—and outright lies—in order to discourage injured workers from claiming benefits. Insurance company officials believe that many claimants are exaggerating their conditions in order to get “free money,” so they feel no guilt trying to cheat them in return.

Of course, for the majority of people who are truly suffering because of Dauphin County workplace accidents, being denied the benefits they desperately need is a catastrophe.

New injury or old injury?

One of the most common reasons why an employer or insurance agency will dispute a claim is on the basis that the injury was not acquired during the employee’s job, but instead is an old injury. Of course, under workers’ compensation rules in Pennsylvania, coverage is given only for those injuries that occur at work or in the course of employment.

Employers or their insurance carriers will often make one of the following claims, in order to deny workers’ compensation coverage for an employee’s injury:

  • The injury occurred while the employee was away from work, during a weekend, or during vacation time.
  • This is a preexisting condition that the employee first experienced before he began to work for the current employer.
  • This is an old injury that was previously treated by workers’ compensation benefits from this employer, and the benefits ended when the employee achieved her maximum possible improvement.
  • This is an old injury that was treated by a previous employer through workers’ compensation benefits.

That’s exactly how the insurance company tries to confuse you. It’s true that an old injury isn’t covered by today’s workers’ compensation benefits. But often enough, you are actually suffering from a new injury that is related to an old injury. You are entitled to medical benefits under Pennsylvania workers’ compensation if your injury:

  • Is a work-related re-injury of a former injury site
  • Is a job-related intensification of an existing medical problem
  • Represents a worsening of your physical condition from a known preexisting illness
  • Is an aggravation of an earlier work-related injury

The law distinguishes between current workplace injuries and prior damage

If your employer’s insurance company tries to block your benefits unfairly, what will you do? Do you have the medical and legal knowledge to document your claim as a truly new injury and get payments for your medical bills? Will you choose to live with the pain of an untreated back, neck, spine, or shoulder injury—one that may make it impossible for you to work again? Or will you pay for your medical care yourself and take on massive debt?

At Schmidt Kramer, we believe you should get the fair level of benefits that you have been promised. We have said so time and again. If you live in Lebanon or Lancaster County or any of the surrounding areas, you can order a FREE copy of our client reference book, Who Pays The Bills When You Are Injured At Work?, just by calling us at 717-888-8888 or 888-476-0807. At the same time, you can schedule a free, confidential case review from our workers’ compensation lawyers in Harrisburg.

Connect with us today. We regularly win compensation for clients who had a preexisting condition, and we can often demonstrate the validity of your claim so forcefully that we can avoid litigation.