Q: I developed a stress fracture in my foot from running, but dropped a box on it at work which caused it to become an acute fracture—can I still collect workers’ compensation benefits?
Preexisting conditions, such as your stress fracture, can greatly complicate the nature of your workers’ compensation claim. The good news, however, is that the preexisting condition does not preclude you from collecting workers’ compensation benefits entirely—it will simply lower the total amount of benefits that you receive.
Workers’ compensation benefits are meant to cover you financially from injuries that occur in the scope of employment. This means that for injuries that occur at home or even during lunch breaks, you may not be able to receive any type of workers’ compensation benefits and your own health insurance will need to foot the bill.
Your situation is unique, however, as a workplace injury did occur, yet it may not have been as serious had you not already been injured from an extracurricular activity. Your stress fracture, or hairline fracture, is considered a preexisting condition. While dropping the box would have likely hurt your foot anyway, the absence of the hairline fracture would have possibly prevented the more serious acute fracture.
This is when finding a doctor that is very experienced in workers’ compensation claims can help. The amount you ultimately receive will be determined by how much worse the new injury made the old injury. A doctor who is used to handling workplace injuries will be able to properly document both injuries and give a fair recounting on your claim.
While it may seem clear that the workplace injury worsened your preexisting condition, your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance carrier may dispute that your acute fracture was the result of your work. In order to ensure that you receive the benefits and compensation that you deserve, you will want to make sure that you have the proper doctors and lawyers on your team.
At Schmidt Kramer, we handle complicated cases like yours regularly, and fight to ensure that your rights as an injured employee are not abused. To discuss your case with a workers’ compensation attorney, contact us now for a free consultation.