Arthritis in Pennsylvania Workers Compensation

Arthritis in Pennsylvania workers compensation is the subject of plenty of litigation. Arthritis triggers denials in worker compensation cases, which leads to unpaid wages and unpaid medical bills, and triggers denial of needed medical treatment.

What causes arthritis?

Arthritis can be a debilitating medical condition. Generally, arthritis is inflammation and/or swelling in one or more joints. It is extremely common in people age 50 or older. There are several different types of arthritis, most notably osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Although exact causes of arthritic development is not entirely known, we do know that it is more prevalent as we age, more prevalent by family genetics, more prevalent with obesity, more prevalent with repetitive movement of the joints, more prevalent when a joint has been damaged or had surgery, and more prevalent and worsened by smoking.

Typically, in workers’ compensation, we see arthritis as a result of age, overuse of joints, or after a traumatic injury or surgery.

How does arthritis interplay with workers compensation?

When a person is injured at work they seek medical care right away. That medical care includes X-Rays. X-Rays at times reveals the presence of mild or moderate arthritis. Here in lies the classic arthritis problem in Pennsylvania workers’ compensation litigation. The insurance carrier denies the claim because the X-Rays showed arthritis. Problem here is that in most cases that go into litigation, the injured worker did not even know they had arthritis. They had no symptoms or prior treatment. Sound familiar?

Sometimes, particularly in workers over 45, they injure a body part, such as a shoulder or knee, and the MRI reveals a chronic tear. Yet, the injured worker was never symptomatic, never treated, and never had a problem. In other cases, an MRI may shows an unspecified tear, but there is degeneration around the tear or in other areas of the joint. Again, the injured worker never had symptoms or treatment prior to the work injury. Sound familiar?

Sometimes the injured worker had an accepted work injury, had surgery for the injury, and afterwards had ongoing symptoms. Further imaging shows development of arthritis. That triggers the insurance carrier to deny medical treatment and file petitions. Sound familiar?

And yet the other times, claims are denied because the injured worker is older and they just tend to blame arthritis, even though again, there were no symptoms or treatment. Sound familiar?

Finally, having pre-existing arthritis is not a bar to workers’ compensation benefits. Being symptomatic and in active treatment for arthritis is not a bar to benefits if the injury changed your symptoms and your ability to work.

Is arthritis covered by workers’ compensation?

Yes, it can be covered by workers’ compensation.  In many cases, as stated here, it will have to be litigated.  Whether you did not have any prior symptoms or you had prior symptoms, but he work injury worsened those symptoms, having the right legal representation matters.  It is clear that preexisting conditions are not a bar to workers’ compensation benefits.  Your employer or insurance carrier may tell you that, but is false.  Bottom line here is that arthritis in Pennsylvania workers’ compensation is a frequently litigated issue. Mooney Law has successfully litigated many cases regarding arthritis and pre-existing conditions.

We stand ready to fight for you as well. Call us today for an absolutely free consultation at 717-200-HELP or 717-632-4656. You can also visit us on the web and complete the Schedule a Consultation form. Employers frequently brush off work injuries and simply say, ‘oh well you have arthritis’. You do not need to take or accept that. Call us today. We are ready to help.

Mark Buterbaugh

Attorney representing injured workers and Social Security Disability clients in Pennsylvania and Maryland.