have a bad back from a car accident 5 years ago, and was recently injured at work. I hurt my back again. Can I file a claim for my injuries?


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Question: I have a bad back from a car accident 5 years ago, and was recently injured at work. I hurt my back again. Can I file a claim for my injuries?

Answer: There are 2 potential claims available in this work accident scenario: a workers’ compensation claim and a work accident lawsuit.

Pre-Existing Injuries & PA Workers’ Compensation Claims

Under Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law, employers are required to provide medical benefits and disability pay for workers who, as a result of a work related accident, suffer an aggravation of an old injury (i.e., flare-up or re-injury). This is specifically laid out in Section 301 of the PA Workers’ Compensation Act and also supported by multiple Pennsylvania court cases.

Related: Steps in a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Pennsylvania

There are 2 important caveats. First, the injured employer must provide the employer with timely notice of the accident and injuries. There is a general 21 day rule, which requires injured workers to notify the employer of the accident and injuries within 21 days of the accident. Second, there is a final notice rule. If notice is not filed within 120 days, the injured worker’s claim may be barred. However, in many pre-existing injury cases, the injured worker might not realize that the flare-up is related to work, in which case the notice might be filed late. Talk to one of our work accident lawyers to find out if you have filed notice on time.

More: Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Law – The Basics (Part A)

Pre-Existing Injuries & PA Work Accident Lawsuits

Many workers will be able to obtain financial recovery in addition to, or on top of, the workers’ compensation benefits. This can be accomplished by filing a third party work accident lawsuit, i.e., a lawsuit against an outside party. For example, in a forklift accident case, if it is determined that the accident was caused by a defective forklift, then the injured worker has a valid defective products liability case against the forklift manufacturer, the third party/outside party.

In these types of work accident cases, injured workers (plaintiffs) bear the burden of proof. This means that the plaintiff must prove, among other things, that the accident caused the injury. Therefore, in a work accident case involving an old injury, the key is using medical records/evidence to establish a timeline which shows the following:

  • when/how the old injury occurred,
  • the extent of the treatment for the old injury, and
  • when the old injury resolved.

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Laffey, Bucci & Kent is a work accident and injury law firm based in Philadelphia. Our work accident lawyers specialize in handling negligence cases against third parties and may handle workers’ compensation cases. Depending on the facts of a given work accident case, the firm may refer the workers’ compensation case to another law firm. Click To Call

Our lawyers are available for a free, no obligation legal consultation, and can obtain special admission in other states, such as New York or Delaware, on a case by case basis.

**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.