Will a prior work injury hurt my case?

Many of my clients work in nursing homes, manufacturing facilities, warehouse and distribution centers, trucking terminals, farms, and more labor intensive occupations. In those labor intensive occupations, unfortunately, it is not uncommon to suffer more than one work injury.

Just because you had a prior work injury with another employer or even the same employer does not mean you are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. That also is applicable for injuries to the same body part, otherwise known as aggravation of a preexisting condition.

Will my claim for the new injury be denied?

It is quite possible that when you suffer a second, third, or more work injury, the insurance carrier may deny your claim. They do have a right to do that. Employers have 20 days to accept or deny a claim. Unfortunately, prior work injuries do lead to more denials. Yes, the insurance carrier will run a claims search and find out about prior work injuries

Why would they deny my claim?

There are a few main reasons that having prior injuries may lead to an initial denial. First, and generally speaking, some employers try and bully an injured worker into thinking since they had a previous injury, the new injury is not covered by workers’ compensation. They are wrong. They will point to a pre-existing condition. However, aggravation or exacerbation of a prior condition is compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act.

Second, if the injury is to the same body part as a prior work injury, they may try and place blame on the prior employer. They may attempt to pull in the previous employer and insurance carrier. The prior employer will of course point the finger back to your current employer. Meanwhile, you are out of work with no money and medical bills piling up.

Third, prior work injuries just simply cause skepticism from insurance carriers. They think you are just trying to ‘play the game’ for more money.

Here is a real example

I had a client that suffered a shoulder tear while working for an employer as a truck driver. The insurance carrier denied his claim. We filed a Claim Petition and won the litigation before a Workers’ Compensation Judge. The insurance carrier had to pay back and ongoing wage loss benefits and medical benefits, including surgery. A year later, we were able to settle the case for a six figure sum.

Afterwards, my client went to work for a new employer. He advised the new employer that he had no restrictions, which he did not, but was uncomfortable throwing straps over a truck. They hired him. Unfortunately, they had him throwing straps over a truck, and he sustained another traumatic tear to the same shoulder. Of course, the new employer denied the claim. They attempted to pull the prior insurance carrier into the litigation. They were unsuccessful. We were able to establish through doctor testimony that the shoulder tear was new, the claimant was released from the prior injury, and that the only fix was a shoulder replacement. We won the Claim Petition and the claimant was awarded wage loss benefits and medical benefits, including the shoulder replacement surgery. Two years later, we settled the case for a six figure sum.

Protect yourself

Prior work injuries and prior work injuries to the same body part do not bar you from workers’ compensation benefits. What you need is an experienced and skilled workers’ compensation attorney to fight for and protect your entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits. Mooney Law has obtained tens of millions of dollars for injured workers through Pennsylvania and Maryland. We handle all type of workers’ compensation cases including complex litigation. We stand ready to help you. Whether you have been injured once or multiple times, we can help. Call Mooney Law today for a free consultation at 833-MOONEYLAW or 717-200-HELP. You can also complete the Schedule a Consultation form on our website to schedule your free consultation.

Mark Buterbaugh

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