Many injured workers are surprised to learn that Pennsylvania work accident law allows for financial recovery in situations where a work injury leads to aggravation of an already existing or old injury. Below is an example which explains the claims an injured worker may make in a pre-existing injury work accident case.
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A worker working on a roof at a commercial construction site falls through an unguarded hole in the roof. He suffers major injuries, including aggravation of an old back injury. Three years before this accident, the worker strained his back and needed medical treatment, including an MRI which showed 1 herniation in the low back. He received physical therapy and 2 spinal disc corticosteroid injections.
After the recent work accident, the worker files a workers’ compensation claim to obtain medical treatment and lost wage disability payments. He also files a negligence lawsuit against an outside roofing contractor which failed to provide proper guarding of holes in the roof. In that case, the lawyers for the roofing contractor argue that the old injury had not fully resolved and is the cause of any current symptoms.
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Here, the key is looking at the complete medical history, especially the period after the worker finished treating for his strain injury (3 years before the work accident at issue). The medical records must show that the injured worker stopped treating for the old back injury at some time prior to the new accident, and the longer the period, the better.
For instance, if the worker stopped treating for the old injury just 2 months before the new accident, then there is a strong argument that the old injury had not resolved and is the cause of the current symptoms. On the other hand, if the worker stopped treating for the old injury 2 years before the new accident, then there is a strong argument that the old injury had completely resolved and that the new work accident caused the aggravation or flare-up.
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