Aggravation of Pre-Existing Conditions in the Airline Industry

Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Serving Chicago

Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, employees injured in the course of their jobs can seek relief in the form of benefits. An important benefit is medical benefits, which means your medical treatment will be covered. The disability benefits you can get for an on-the-job injury are only a portion of your wages for the period you can’t work because of your injuries. This amount can be determined by how permanent the injury is and how disabled you are by it. In some cases, the injury is not utterly new, but is an exacerbation of a pre-existing condition. If you are suffering from the aggravation of a pre-existing condition in the airline industry, you may be unjustly denied benefits under the workers’ compensation system. The denial may not be legitimate. It is important to consult a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney about possible recourse if you’re denied benefits.

Aggravation of Pre-Existing Conditions in the Airline Industry

In Illinois workers’ compensation benefits are available for all injuries caused by your work, all injuries resulting from work-related tasks that were done at an employer’s request, and any pre-existing conditions that are aggravated or worsened by your job-related duties.

It is not uncommon for airline employees to have a pre-existing medical issues or even several issues. For example, a flight attendant may have a disc herniation they sustained in a minor car accident. For another example, a baggage handler may have previously suffered an ACL injury from playing touch football. However, it is not legitimate for an insurer to issue a denial of benefits solely because you have that pre-existing injury. Injuries, including exacerbations of pre-existing conditions, experienced while working for an airline should be covered by workers’ compensation.

Your employer, and by extension your insurer, must take you as it finds you, meaning it cannot make a decision based on its idea of an ideal worker. You cannot be barred from getting workers’ compensation benefits based on the pre-existing condition so long your job aggravated the condition.

Job-Related Aggravation of Injuries

Unfortunately, there can be some challenges that arise when you are trying to prove that an aggravation is work related. In order for the exacerbation to be covered by workers’ compensation, there must have been an event that aggravated the pre-existing condition, and you need to be able to trace the aggravation to a certain place, time, and cause that falls within the course of your job. For example, you should be able to show that your disc herniation was specifically aggravated when you lifted an extremely heavy bag for an airline customer.

However, unlike in civil litigation, in a workers’ compensation claim you need not prove fault. You don’t need to show that your employer is to blame for the aggravation, and conversely, you cannot be denied benefits because you aggravated the pre-existing condition with your own actions. On the other hand, non-work factors that may have also affected your pre-existing condition can complicate your claim. As a flight attendant with a prior disc herniation, your insurer may find out that you were lifting boxes at home because you were moving weeks before you lifted a customer’s baggage incorrectly. In that situation there may be some debate about whether to attribute the exacerbation to work or to what you were doing at home.

As part of your workers’ compensation claim, you may need to go through an independent medical exam. These are tricky because the doctor chosen by your insurer may have a bias against claimants and patients, and may take a conservative approach to medicine. It is important to consult a skillful attorney who can protect your interests through the worker’s compensation claims process.

Consult a Dedicated Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Chicago

If you are a Chicago worker who has suffered from aggravation of a pre-existing condition in the airline industry, a seasoned workers’ compensation lawyer can help you assert your rights. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Eagle, Johnson & Bareck, we represent injured workers in Rockford, Quincy, Champaign, and Aurora, as well as Winnebago, Adams, Kane, Sangamon, and Cook Counties. Contact us at 800-444-1525 or at 312-263-6330 or by completing our online form.