Pre-Existing Injuries and Workplace Rights

Pre-existing injuries can present complicated situations when it comes to workplace rights. It's important to know how Virginia law can protect you.
Construction workers talking on a job site

Getting hurt at work is a common occurrence, but what if you have a pre-existing injury? It’s always important to know your rights in the workplace, especially when it comes to a pre-existing condition or disability. In the course of doing your job, you could experience an accident or incident that exacerbates a pre-existing injury. If this happens, you need to know that the law in Virginia will protect you and help you get on the road to recovery.

Things can get complicated when it comes to pre-existing injuries and workplace rights. However, what you have to remember is that a pre-existing injury does not necessarily mean you won’t be able to get workers’ compensation or disability benefits.

What to Know About Pre-Existing Injuries in the Workplace

Employers Need to Make Reasonable Adjustments for Disabilities

The first thing to keep in mind is that if you have an old injury that affects you in a way amounting to a disability, your employer may have to provide certain accommodations for you. In Virginia Law, “An employer shall make reasonable accommodation to the known physical and mental impairments of an otherwise qualified person with a disability, if necessary to assist such person in performing a particular job unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue burden on the employer.”

This means that you can ask your employer to make adjustments to how you do your job, what tasks you perform, or assistance that you’re given to help you work. However, the accommodation has to be reasonable, so employers aren’t required to make any and every adjustment. There may be times when an employee’s disability means they’re not suitable for the role in the way that the employer requires.

Workers’ Compensation Covers Aggravation of Pre-Existing Conditions

Some people might tell you that if a workplace injury involves a pre-existing condition or old injury, it’s not eligible for workers’ compensation. However, this isn’t true. Cases involving pre-existing injuries can be compensated. In Virginia law, workers’ compensation can be provided when an old injury is aggravated in the workplace. “Aggravated” is the key word here, as it is the aggravation of the injury and not the pre-existing injury itself that is most important.

There are many examples of aggravated injuries that could fall under this definition. For example, someone who has arthritis or has previously injured their back, knee or another joint might be able to show that their work or an accident at work has aggravated their existing injury. In fact, the employer can be found responsible for the aggravation of the pre-existing injury and all of the disability it creates, even if the old injury was a contributing factor.

Proving That an Accident Aggravated an Old Injury Can Be Tricky

Although workers’ compensation can cover the aggravation of a pre-existing injury, proving the case can be difficult. A pre-existing injury doesn’t prevent you from filing for workers’ comp, but you do need to be honest about the injury. It’s much better to be upfront about any pre-existing conditions, or it could come back to bite you later.

If you want to make a workers’ compensation claim that involves a pre-existing injury, you need to have experienced lawyers on your side. The right lawyers will ensure all of the right evidence is presented, showing that you had a pre-existing injury and that the injury was exacerbated by your recent accident. This might include presenting your past and current medical records and documentation regarding how your recent injury has affected you. Look for an attorney with experience in this type of case and a proven track record of success so that you can be confident they will do their best to get the outcome you deserve.

Your lawyer can help you to ensure that you get full compensation for a workplace injury, even if it involves the aggravation of a pre-existing injury. Trustworthy and reliable legal representation is a must if you want to fight your case successfully. You also need support from a good doctor, who can show that your injury has been exacerbated by your workplace accident.

Choose a Skilled Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Richmond, VA

If you have experienced an injury at work that has aggravated an older injury, you could still be entitled to workers’ compensation. Our experienced attorneys at Renfro & Renfro are ready to assist with your case and ensure you get the best result. Contact us today to find out more about how our trusted workers’ compensation lawyers can help you.


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