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​Experienced ILLINOIS Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
& CHICAGO Injury Lawyers

Airline Workers With Pre-Existing Conditions

Chicago Lawyers for Workers’ Compensation Claims in the Air Travel Industry

Sometimes airline workers with pre-existing conditions are unfairly denied workers’ compensation benefits. You should be aware that this denial may not be lawful: if your pre-existing condition was aggravated due to a work injury, it is likely compensable under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. An experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney can assist you if you are an airline worker with a pre-existing condition who was injured on the job and denied workers’ compensation benefits.

Airline Workers With Pre-Existing Conditions

Many employees have some sort of pre-existing condition. For example, you may have an old knee injury from playing basketball. Or, you may have degenerative disc disorder that is worsened by lifting baggage. Or you may have previously worked in a factory in which there were toxic chemical exposures that caused you to develop respiratory problems that are aggravated while working on an airplane.

Injuries that occur in the course of employment should be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. This situation can be complicated by pre-existing conditions, but your insurer should not simply deny you for having a previously existing medical condition.

An employer takes an employee as it finds him or her. Therefore, if you are an airline worker with a pre-existing condition, you aren’t barred from obtaining workers’ compensation benefits related to that condition, so long as your employment caused the pre-existing condition to become aggravated.

In order to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, an aggravation of the pre-existing condition must be job-related. In other words, there needs to have been an aggravating event that can be traced to a definite cause, time and place that is in the course of employment.


The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act provides for a wide range of benefits. These include disability benefits, medical benefits, vocational rehabilitation benefits, and death benefits. The disability benefits are often important to airline workers with pre-existing conditions who are rendered unable to work. These benefits can be for temporary partial disability, temporary total disability, permanent partial disability, or permanent total disability.

The workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system. You will not need to prove that your employer was responsible for aggravation of your pre-existing condition. Importantly, your employer’s insurer cannot refuse you benefits because you aggravated your own pre-existing condition. For example, if you have degenerative disc disease, and picked up an airline customer’s bag “the wrong way” such that you ruptured a disc, your employer cannot point to your fault as a reason to deny you benefits such as medical care or disability benefits. Generally, not considering fault can make the process of recovering workers’ compensation benefits more straightforward than suing in civil court. However, insurers sometimes issue illegitimate denials, and it’s important to stay alert to this possibility, especially if you have a pre-existing condition.

Complicated Situations

Sometimes the situation is a little more complicated. The most straightforward case is one in which you hurt your back on the job, but the last time you saw a doctor about your back was ten years ago. In that case, the insurer is unlikely to prevail on the grounds that your hurt back is due to a pre-existing condition rather than aggravation of a pre-existing condition. However, if you did strain your back while picking up your young kids a few weeks ago and have been going to physical therapy and seeing a doctor since then, it can be more difficult to show that the situation was aggravated by an event at work. Sometimes insurers ask workers to undergo an independent medical exam. In spite of the name of the exam, these are not independent; often the doctor is biased in favor of the employer. It is wise to retain a skillful lawyer to help you navigate the workers’ compensation claims process.

Consult a Knowledgeable Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Chicago

If you are an airline worker with a pre-existing condition who was injured on the job in Chicago, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help you pursue the benefits to which you’re entitled. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca, we represent injured airline workers in Springfield, Aurora, Champaign, Rockford, and Quincy, as well as Adams, Sangamon, Cook, Winnebago, Champaign, and Kane Counties. We will also look closely at the situation to determine whether other relief, such as damages in a personal injury lawsuit or SSDI may be sought. Call us at 312-724-5846, or contact us online to learn more.