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Court rules against work-related degenerative disc disease claim

Pennsylvania's industrial workforce has been the cornerstone of the state's economy for several generations. Each day, thousands of people work hard to provide for their loved ones and help bring the state through the economic recession. Unfortunately, this type of work carries risks. The use of heavy equipment can lead to medical trauma, including a serious back injury, if the right safety precautions are not followed.

One man, who was injured on the job, was recently handed another setback as a court ruled against his claim for workers' compensation after he received a degenerative disc disease diagnosis. While the man was completing his work-related duties, a trench wall collapsed on him and sent the man on a collision course with another wall. In the immediate aftermath of the accident, the worker was buried under rubble until another employee extricated him.

Not long after the accident, the man was experiencing severe back pain. His physician diagnosed him with degenerative disc disease, which was believed to be a direct result of the incident. As such, he filed a claim for workers' compensation two months after the incident.

Unfortunately, his claim for benefits was denied because there was apparently not enough evidence for causation. According to court documents, the man did not properly link the back issues to the accident. Evidently the man had visited a doctor to take care of some back pain even before the accident occurred.

Though every workplace accident is different, individuals are generally entitled to workers' compensation benefits if they can prove that they can prove that a workplace accident directly contributed to a specific injury. In this case, the man argued that the court should run under the assumption that he was in good health prior to the accident. However, the court disagreed and ruled that the degenerative back condition could be attributed to a pre-existing condition.

Whenever you or a loved one is injured on the job, do not hesitate to file an accident report and visit a physician. This way, the documentation necessary to file a successful claim for workers' compensation can be provided. By pursuing a claim immediately, it can help your doctor link an injury to a specific accident, which will greatly improve the chance that the claim will be approved by your employer.

Source: Risk & Insurance, "Back pain before work accident undermines benefits claim," May 17, 2012

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