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The Impact of Pre-Existing Conditions on a Workers’ Compensation Claim

A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you fight for fair compensation, even with a pre-existing condition.


  • Workers’ compensation benefits injured workers for medical care, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs.
  • A pre-existing condition can complicate a workers’ compensation claim, but you may still be eligible for benefits if your work injury worsens the condition.
  • Insurance companies might try to deny your claim or reduce benefits due to a pre-existing condition.
  • To protect your rights, keep good documentation and seek legal help from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

An injury at work can be a stressful and disruptive experience. Medical bills pile up, lost wages strain your finances, and recovering from an injury takes time. If you have a pre-existing condition, you might worry that it disqualifies you from receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

The good news is that a pre-existing condition doesn’t automatically bar you from compensation. However, it can add complexity to an already stressful process.

At Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia, our team of workers’ compensation attorneys is committed to using our skills and experience to help you secure the benefits you deserve. Give us a call at (800) 320-HELP or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Workers’ Compensation 101

Workers’ compensation is a system that provides financial benefits to employees who are injured or become ill because of their job. It typically covers medical bills, lost wages due to injury or illness, and rehabilitation costs.

If you’re hurt on the job, you report the injury to your employer and seek medical attention.  The employer’s insurance company will review your claim and determine your eligibility for benefits.

Workers’ compensation is crucial for injured workers, making sure you get the medical care you need and helping replace lost income while you recover. It’s also a good idea to review the resources Florida offers injured employees who are seeking workers’ compensation benefits.

Benefits Available from Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation offers a variety of benefits to help you recover, including:

  • Medical care: This covers all necessary medical treatment for your work-related injury or illness.
  • Temporary disability benefits: If your injury prevents you from working temporarily, you may receive a portion of your regular wages.
  • Permanent disability benefits: In some cases, a work injury can leave you with lasting impairments. Permanent disability benefits offer financial assistance if you can no longer work or your earning capacity is reduced.
  • Vocational rehabilitation: Workers’ compensation may cover retraining or other services to help you return to work if your injury prevents you from performing your previous job.

It’s important to note that workers’ compensation doesn’t cover everything. For example, it typically doesn’t cover pain and suffering or non-medical expenses.

How Pre-Existing Conditions Affect Workers’ Compensation

Having a pre-existing condition doesn’t automatically disqualify you from receiving workers’ compensation benefits, but it can affect what benefits you’re owed and how insurance companies may approach your case.

Aggravated Pre-Existing Conditions

If a work injury worsens a pre-existing condition, you are entitled to workers’ compensation for the worsened condition. This includes medical bills for treating the aggravated condition and lost wages due to the worsening of your symptoms.

For example, if you have a pre-existing back injury and your job requires lifting heavy objects, a work injury that aggravates your back pain could be eligible for workers’ compensation.

Independent Pre-Existing Conditions

Generally, workers’ compensation doesn’t cover separate pre-existing conditions that aren’t affected by the work injury. The focus is on the work-related injury and its consequences.

There can be exceptions, however. For instance, if a pre-existing condition weakens your body and makes you more susceptible to a work injury, you might still be eligible for benefits.

Insurance Company Tactics

While workers’ compensation is designed to protect injured workers, insurance companies are naturally focused on their bottom line. Consequently, insurers give many reasons to deny workers’ compensation claims. When a pre-existing condition is involved, they may employ various tactics to minimize their payouts, such as:

Denial by pre-existing cause: Insurance companies might argue that your pre-existing condition, not the work injury, was the primary cause of your current issue. This can be especially challenging if your pre-existing condition caused similar symptoms. They might deny your entire claim based on this argument. To appeal your denied workers’ comp claim, you would need strong evidence to prove the work injury directly aggravated your condition.

Reduced benefits due to pre-existing conditions: Even if they acknowledge the work injury, they might argue that your pre-existing condition contributed to the severity of your injury. This can lead to a reduction in benefits awarded for medical treatment, lost wages, or disability. They might use pre-existing limitations documented in your medical history to downplay the impact of the work injury.

These tactics can be frustrating and complex to counter on your own. An experienced Florida workers’ comp attorney can help you navigate these challenges and win fair compensation.

Protecting Your Rights in a Workers’ Compensation Claim Involving a Pre-Existing Condition

A pre-existing condition adds complexity to a workers’ compensation claim, but it doesn’t have to prevent you from receiving fair compensation. Here’s how to protect your rights:

  • Documentation is Key: Keep thorough medical records for your pre-existing condition, including diagnosis and any limitations it caused. Additionally, document any workplace injuries immediately and report them to your employer.
  • Importance of Legal Representation: Workers’ compensation with pre-existing conditions can be complex. An experienced attorney can help navigate the legal landscape, fight for fair compensation, and ensure you receive the benefits you deserve.

By being proactive with documentation and seeking legal guidance early on, you can significantly increase your chances of a successful workers’ compensation claim, even with a pre-existing condition.

Get in Touch With a Workers’ Compensation Attorney

While workers’ compensation can be a valuable safety net for injured workers, navigating the system with a pre-existing condition can be a complex challenge. Here’s why a personal injury lawyer is essential in such cases:

  • Reviewing your case: We’ll thoroughly analyze your situation, explain your legal options in clear terms, and guide you through the workers’ compensation process.
  • Gathering evidence: We’ll help gather medical records, doctor consultations, witness statements, and any other evidence necessary to prove that your condition was caused or worsened by your working conditions.
  • Fight for full benefits: We’ll fight to ensure you receive coverage for all necessary medical treatment, lost wages due to missed work, and any potential future medical needs related to the injury.
  • Negotiate with insurance companies: We will negotiate aggressively to secure a settlement that reflects the full impact of your injury and provides the financial compensation you deserve.
  • Represent you in court: If your claim goes to court, we have the experience and skill to represent you effectively before a workers’ compensation judge.

Having a pre-existing condition shouldn’t prevent you from getting the compensation you deserve after a work injury. If you’ve been injured on the job and have a pre-existing condition, contact a qualified workers’ compensation attorney at Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia today. Our workers’ comp attorneys can help review your case, explain your legal options, and fight for the full benefits you’re entitled to.

Don’t go through this alone–let us help you get the compensation you deserve. You can contact us online or call us at (800) 320-HELP to schedule a free consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if the work injury was partially my fault? Can I still get workers’ compensation?

Workers’ compensation covers on-the-job accidents, regardless of who caused them. A workplace accident could be partially or even completely your fault and you can still qualify for full workers’ compensation benefits in Florida. However, if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or you intentionally injured yourself, you would be ineligible.

What if my pre-existing condition barely bothers me, but my work injury made it much worse?

Even if your pre-existing condition wasn’t a major issue before, you can still be eligible for workers’ compensation if a work injury significantly aggravated it. This includes covering medical bills for treating the worsened condition and lost wages due to increased limitations.

Can my employer fire me for filing a workers’ compensation claim for an aggravated pre-existing condition?

No, it is illegal for a Florida employer to fire an injured employee because they filed for workers’ compensation benefits. Be sure to tell your workers’ compensation attorney about this kind of retaliation.

No Win, No Fee Commitment

Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia is committed to helping you rebuild your life after a hardship. We are not just your legal team—we are your allies, your partners, and your advocates. We will do everything we can to handle your case with compassion and care, and to get you the results you need!

“And for every fight we take on, know this…we are doing everything we can to make sure we win!”

— Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia

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About the Author

Adam Werner is a partner and practicing attorney at WHG. He specializes in personal injury cases, workers’ compensation claims, and veteran disability benefits. He routinely writes about personal injury and workers comp topics for the Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia blog

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