by Bernard D. Nomberg, Partner, The Nomberg Law Firm
Having a pre-existing condition can have a serious impact on your workers’ compensation claim. This is especially true when the pre-existing condition is of a similar nature to the injury you are claiming. The employer can try to show that the injury was caused by your pre-existing condition.
Employers do this because in Alabama if the work accident is a contributing cause to the injury, the injury and the resulting disability are compensable. Maclin v. Bamsi, Inc., 644 So.2d 1 (Ala.Civ.App. 1994). An employee in these situations only needs to establish causation for a work accident or a workplace injury, to show that the strain or exposure to employment conditions was a contributing cause of the injury. Page v. Cox & Cox, Inc., 892 So.2d 413 (Ala.Civ.App. 2004); Fort James Operating Co. v. Kirklewski, 893 So.2d 434 (Ala.Civ.App. 2004). Thus, employers will try to show that your injury was not a result of the work-related injury at all but rather caused by a continuation of your pre-existing injury.
In the state of Alabama, it is not necessary that the employee show that the on-the-job incident was the sole reason for the injury, but just that the injury was caused, in some part, by the work-related incident. For example, when you have a pre-existing back injury and a work-related injury takes place which makes this injury worse, you can have a claim for the worsening of your pre-existing injury. If the work-related injury makes your pre-existing condition bad enough to keep you from continuing work, you may make a disability claim on the new injury.
In Alabama you can claim a work-related injury even though you had a pre-existing condition. The main requirement for your claim is that the work-related injury contributed to the current condition of the injury. It is important to note the difference between pre-existing conditions from outside work from work-related injuries. As long as your employment contributed to your injury, the employer will be responsible for your medical bills. It is important to discuss with your doctor the history of the injury and how the injury was made worse by the at-work injury.
You do not have to have a “perfect back” just prior to having an on-the-job accident injuring your back in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits. If you are able to perform the duties of your job in a normal manner prior to an on-the-job accident, then your workers’ compensation claim is compensable pursuant to Alabama law.
If you have questions about a pre-existing injury and its effect on your workers’ compensation claim, please call the attorneys at the Nomberg Law Firm (205) 930-6900 or contact us here.
Bernard D. Nomberg has practiced workers’ compensation law in Alabama for more than 20 years. Bernard has earned an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell’s peer-review rating. He has been selected a Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine as well as a Top Rated Attorney by B-Metro Magazine.