In New Jersey, you have a right to workers compensation, even if you have a pre-existing or chronic condition. Under New Jersey law, employers are considered to have hired you “as you are,” which means that they took you with all the conditions you came to them with.
In fact, you are entitled to compensation for the exacerbation if the workplace injury made your pre-existing condition worse.
Here’s what you need to know about how a pre-existing condition could impact your claim.
Your employer could dispute causality.
Even though employers may not deny your claim on the basis of the existence of a pre-existing condition, you nevertheless will have to prove that the condition was “aggravated, accelerated, or combined with the pre-existing disease or infirmary to produce the disability for which compensation is sought.” (Sexton v. County of Cumberland).
This means you’ll have to prove that there was true medical exacerbation, and you’ll have to prove the exacerbation was solely the result of your work-related activities. The claim must be based on the exacerbation, and not on the old injury. There are many ways to do this, including medical records, medical tests and images, and witness testimony. We may also have to bring in expert witnesses.
Denying that an injury or death is work-related is a go-to strategy for most employers. As your workers compensation attorneys we’re here to help you prove otherwise.
Your compensation amount may be smaller.
New Jersey law does allow workers compensation insurance companies to prorate compensation when dealing with pre-existing conditions.
However, the employer must prove that there was a prior loss of function in that body part before they can simply prorate the compensation amount. There are also times when exacerbating a pre-existing condition can mean you’re entitled to more compensation.
The complexity of these issues is one reason why it’s so important to work closely with a New Jersey workers compensation lawyer whenever disputes about your compensation happen to arise.
Get Help Today
There’s no such thing as a simple workers compensation case. If you have any indication that your employer or insurer is going to balk at paying your claim, reach out to our office to schedule a free consultation.
We may be able to help you secure the full value of your claim.