Disclose, Disclose, Disclose Preexisting Conditions and Treatment

It is important for injured workers to disclose ALL pre-existing medical conditions, treatment, or symptoms related to the body part that was recently injured at work. Failing to do so can have devastating consequences on the workers’ compensation case.

Every new client that comes to consult with me for a Pennsylvania work-related injury is asked about pre-existing conditions, treatment or symptoms. Why? Because I need to know. Time and time again, I have this very conversation with new clients that come to see me. Again, it is important to note that per-existing conditions ARE NOT a bar to workers’ compensation benefits.
Let’s take a look at a fact pattern.

Injured worker comes to see me for a work-related right shoulder injury. The worker slipped and fell on a wet floor, stretched out the right arm to brace the fall, jarring the right shoulder, which led to immediate pain. Three years prior, the injured worker injured the right shoulder at a prior job, but recovered and went on with life. In fact, it may have been a minor injury that only resulted in one doctor’s appointment. This prior incident should be disclosed.

Who should it be disclosed to?

It should be disclosed to the employer/insurance carrier when asked, should be disclosed to me so I know, and should be disclosed to the injured worker’s doctor. Furthermore, it should be disclosed during the injured worker’s testimony before the Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ). For me, I need to know so I can get those medical records and perhaps add aggravation of a pre-existing condition within the work injury description, if need be.

Why should it be disclosed?

First, and foremost, the insurance carrier’s attorney is going to find out. They will order medical records from any and all medical providers you may have treated with over the last 5 to 10 years. They will order records from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry for prior work injuries. In other words, if you treated for it, they will find it. When you testify, the insurance carrier’s attorney will ask about preexisting condition or prior injuries. They likely already have the records detailing a prior condition. By avoiding it and not disclosing it, they will present those records to you and the WCJ. Now your credibility is under attack. Not being upfront and honest will wreck havoc on your case.

Additionally, they will also inquire of your treating doctor during the doctor’s deposition testimony of whether or not the doctor knew of this prior condition. When the doctor is unaware, that negatively impacts the doctor’s opinion in supporting your claim.

When filing a workers’ compensation claim, it is important to be straightforward and honest. When you first report your injury to a doctor, whether it is your own doctor or the company’s treating doctor, you must include any and all injuries you have ever had to that area of the body. Failure to disclose will cause you to likely lose your case.
Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, injured workers are eligible for wage loss and medical benefits for the aggravation of a pre-existing condition. The important piece of an aggravation or exacerbation of a prior condition is describing how the new injury worsened or changed the condition.

Mooney Law has an abundance of experience with handling cases that deal with aggravation of preexisting conditions. We stand ready to help. Call Mooney Law today for an absolutely FREE CONSULTATION at 717-200-HELP or 717-632-4656. You can also email us direct at info@mooney4law.com. You can also visit our website at https://www.mooney4law.com.

Mark Buterbaugh

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