How do Pre-existing Conditions Affect Workers’ Compensation Claims in Alabama?

The process of filing a workers' compensation claim can sometimes become complicated if the injured worker has a pre-existing condition. While Alabama laws allows for compensation for injuries sustained at work, how this applies when the employee has a pre-existing condition may be unclear. Understanding the nuances is crucial to ensuring adequate coverage and fair treatment. If you have a pre-existing condition and are involved in a workplace accident, you might be wondering, "how does this affect my workers' compensation claim?” This article tries to shed light on some common issues surrounding this topic and underscores the importance of seeking legal advice. 

Under Alabama law, employers are required to carry workers' compensation insurance to protect their employees in case they sustain an injury at work or develop a work-related illness. Through this system, employees are entitled to benefits covering medical expenses, lost wages, disability, and rehabilitation if applicable. This resolute machinery ensures your health and economic stability while keeping you protected during these trying times.

Pre-existing Conditions and Alabama Workers’ Compensation Laws

In Alabama, a pre-existing condition is a medical ailment, injury, or illness that an individual had prior to their current employment. For instance, if you have a history of back problems and then suffer a back injury at work, your back problem would be considered a pre-existing condition. 

Here is where things start to get somewhat complex. The Alabama Workers' Compensation Act states that an employee may still be entitled to workers' compensation even if they have a pre-existing condition, provided the employment aggravated, accelerated, or combined with the illness or condition to produce the disability or death. This is where an experienced lawyer, like Stephen Thompson, can offer invaluable guidance. 

Take, for example, a worker who has a history of mild arthritis in their knees, and during their work, they slip and fall, causing severe knee damage. Even though they had a pre-existing condition, the fall at work is what aggravated the illness to a severe state, thus qualifying for workers' compensation.

Aggravation vs. Exacerbation

Under Alabama law, an important distinction exists between “aggravation” and “exacerbation” that could potentially impact your claim. 

Exacerbation refers to a temporary flare-up of symptoms without causing further damage, while aggravation is a permanent increase in the severity of the pre-existing condition caused by the work-related accident or occupational disease. The former might not allow for workers' compensation since it's mainly associated with a transient worsening of symptoms without actual damage. On the other hand, the latter could entitle you to receive benefits, as the job-related injury has permanently worsened the pre-existing condition.

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Burden of Proof

Remember, the burden of proof lies with the claimant. It's your responsibility to demonstrate that your work injury or occupational disease aggravated your pre-existing condition, leading to your current disability or impairment. This may require extensive medical documentation and physician testimony, outlining the causal relationship between your job and the deterioration of your pre-existing illness or injury.

Seek Legal Counsel

Having a seasoned attorney like Stephen Thompson by your side can greatly increase your chance of a favorable outcome in situations where pre-existing conditions are at play in workers’ compensation claims. Navigating the intricacies of Alabama's workers' compensation laws can be challenging, but with effective legal counsel, you can rest assured that your case will be handled competently and professionally. 

Stephen Thompson’s expertise in Alabama's personal injury law makes him a formidable ally in negotiating with insurance companies, gathering and presenting medical evidence, and making persuasive arguments on your behalf. Don't let your pre-existing condition hinder your right to workers' compensation. Reach out for a consultation today and let us help you secure the benefits you deserve.

Additional Reading

Recent Alabama Decisions Related to this Subject

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