Pre-Existing Conditions and Workers' Compensation
If you’ve suffered an injury or illness as a direct result of your employment, you may be eligible for compensation. The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation program provides reimbursement for medical expenses and lost wages to workers who have been injured on the job or suffered an occupational illness. The program is a safety net to protect against financial hardships caused by job mishaps and exposure to work-related hazards. Workers’ compensation can help offset the costs related to an on the job injury; but what if you have a pre-existing condition? Will you still be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits?
What Is a Pre-Existing Condition?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that 1 in 2 Americans suffers from the existence of a pre-existing medical condition. These conditions range from illnesses such as cancer to chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. Pre-existing conditions may also include certain propensities for injury caused by past accidents or injuries, such having had a hernia, or a ‘bad back’ or neck injury. All told, the HHS estimates that up to 129 million people in this country have at least at least one pre-existing medical condition.
Between contributing lifestyle factors such as diet and obesity, and increased awareness and diagnosis of diseases such as breast and colorectal cancer, the HHS predicts that of the population who isn’t currently diagnosed with a pre-existing condition, one in three will be diagnosed within the next eight years.
Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Pre-Existing Conditions?
Under the South Carolina Code of Laws, Section 42-9-35 (A), you can still receive workers’ compensation benefits, despite the existence of a pre-existing condition. If a medical condition such as a back or neck injury or a hernia is aggravated in a job-related incident or by an occupational hazard, you are entitled workers’ compensation benefits. Additionally, if the presence of a pre-existing medical condition aggravates the injury you received on the job, under state law you are still entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
What If I Didn’t Disclose a Pre-Existing Condition to My Employer?
Under South Carolina Code Section 42-9-35, your employer’s knowledge of your condition is irrelevant. Failure to disclose a pre-existing medical condition to your employer will not make you ineligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, if your on-the-job injury or illness has been a factor – regardless of whether the condition aggravated your injury or your injury aggravated the condition – it is important to have medical evidence of the pre-existing condition. Medical records, doctor’s opinions, and proof of medical prescriptions and treatments are all potential tools working to further establish your claim.
Contact Our Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you are the victim of an occupational illness or suffered an on-the-job injury, you may be worried about your health and lost wages, while being confused by the information you are receiving and the forms you are required to fill out. At Anastopoulo Law Firm we understand our clients can feel overwhelmed. Contact our experienced workers’ compensation attorney. We’ve helped our clients in Charleston and throughout South Carolina receive the benefits and compensation they deserve. Call us today at (800) 313-2546 to discuss your case.