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Is a pre-existing condition fatal to a workers’ comp claim?

On Behalf of | May 2, 2024 | Workers' Compensation |

Workplace injuries happen all the time, and workers’ compensation is designed to be a safety net – but what happens when that worker has a preexisting condition that is aggravated by their job duties?

In Minnesota, the presence of a pre-existing condition does not automatically disqualify an injured worker from receiving workers’ comp – although it may complicate their claim.

What the law says

According to the law of this state, work-related injuries include “any condition that is caused, aggravated or accelerated by the employment activities.” Furthermore, an injured worker “needs to show only that the employment activities were a substantial contributing factor to the disability and/or need for medical care.”

In other words, your employer may argue that your history of a lower back injury in a car accident is the real cause of your current back pain – but you would only need to show that your job duties (lifting boxes in your employer’s warehouse) aggravated your existing back condition or caused it to worsen to be eligible for benefits anyhow.

Unfortunately, a lot of injured workers do not realize this – and their employers know it. Employees with pre-existing health conditions are often flat-out advised that they’re not eligible for workers’ compensation by employers who are anxious to avoid paying hefty insurance premiums, while others have their claims challenged. That causes delays in their care and can put them in a financial crisis (while their employer is hoping they’ll simply give up after being denied).

If your workers’ compensation claim was denied on the basis of a pre-existing condition but you know that your job duties caused your condition to flare or worsen, you need to take advantage of your appeal rights. Legal guidance can make it easier to get your claim approved.

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