Auto Workers With Pre-Existing Conditions

Chicago Lawyers for Employees Injured on the Job

Claims brought under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act can be complicated by the existence of pre-existing medical conditions. Often auto workers with pre-existing conditions have had accidents outside of work that caused injuries or medical conditions that cause weakness or pain. However, these prior conditions will not keep you from collecting benefits so long as your current injury arose in the course of employment. Even so, consulting an experienced Chicago workers' compensation attorney can help you understand your legal options.

Auto Workers With Pre-Existing Conditions

If you're requesting workers' compensation benefits, the relevant issue is whether your injuries arose out of and in the course of employment. That is, are they traceable to a definite time and cause on the job? Sometimes a work injury is simply an exacerbation or worsening of a prior injury, or a prior injury made you more vulnerable to the work injury. When claiming benefits, it's important to be able to show that there was a connection between the work injury and the exacerbation of the original condition. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can help you show the connection.  

For example, if you have an old sports injury and you had to do a lot of lifting as an auto worker, and your knees get worse such that you need surgery, the worsening of your knees should be recoverable. Similarly, if you got in a rear-end car accident and suffered a slightly herniated disc, and then while lifting, your disc ruptured such that you need surgery, the original herniation shouldn't bar you from recovering benefits. As long as your employment is a factor in causing the condition for which you seek benefits, the fact that it existed before your employment shouldn't stop you from recovering on a workers' compensation claim.

Benefits for Aggravation or Exacerbation of a Pre-Existing Condition

One of the most common denials in workers’ compensation cases arises when someone has been asked to take an X-ray, and the imaging shows some degeneration of the spine or bones, which is a natural part of aging. A workers' compensation insurer may argue that this natural degeneration is a preexisting condition and you shouldn't be compensated. However, keep in mind that the work injury simply needs to be a contributing factor to your medical problem. The Illinois Supreme Court has stated that a work-related accident doesn't need to be the sole or even primary cause of an injury; it simply needs to be a cause.

Benefits to which you may be entitled under the workers’ compensation system include medical benefits and disability benefits. Disability benefits range from temporary partial disability to permanent total disability. Permanent disability benefits may be appropriate if your disability prevents you from ever working again in any kind of job. Sometimes a work injury results in a worker being able to do some work, but not auto manufacturing, or it may be the case that you can do some kind of auto manufacturing job, but not the particular one you were doing before. If you're unable to perform work tasks associated with a prior job or profession, you may qualify for vocational rehabilitation benefits.

Many workers who aggravate old injuries while working are nervous about losing their jobs for filing a workers' compensation claim. While this concern is understandable, your employer cannot retaliate against you for filing a claim for an injury caused by the aggravation of a pre-existing condition. To file a retaliatory discharge claim under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act, you'll need to show: (1) you were an employee before you suffered a work-related injury, (2) you exercised a right granted by the law, and (3) your discharge is causally connected to your exercise of rights under the law.

Dedicated Workers' Compensation Attorneys Serving Chicago

Often insurers are simply looking to protect their bottom line. They may claim that a pre-existing condition is the reason for a workers' compensation denial. However, you shouldn't necessarily accept this as legitimate. If you're an auto worker with a pre-existing condition that was aggravated or worsened on the job in Chicago, it is wise to retain a workers' compensation lawyer. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Eagle, Johnson & Bareck, we represent injured auto workers in Springfield, Aurora, Champaign, Rockford, and Quincy, as well as Cook, Sangamon, Adams, Champaign, Winnebago, and Kane Counties. We will also look closely at your case to determine whether other relief, such as damages in a personal injury lawsuit, may be available. Call us at 312-263-6330 or toll-free at 800-444-1525, or contact us online to learn more.