Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Arthritis and Degenerative Disc Disease
Being injured on the job is a terrible event. However, being injured at work isn’t always what you think. While the injury can be catastrophic and a life-changing experience sometimes the injury isn’t as obvious as a broken or missing limb.
Any time an injury requires treatment and prevents the worker from continuing to perform their duties, it requires that a company provide compensation by law. Thousands of people in Pennsylvania have to contend with a workplace injury every year. And until it happens to you the process is, understandably, a mystery. Most people assume that if you are injured at work you automatically get workers’ compensation benefits, but that is not the case.
Likewise, many don’t know that workers’ compensation for pre-existing conditions IS available. There is a process that must be followed and even then, a claim can be denied for one of any number of reasons. It’s important for anyone going through this process to avoid pitfalls and understand their rights under Pennsylvania law.
If you or a member of your family have been injured an aggravated their arthritis or degenerative disc disease then this post was written for you. Carefully read the information that we have provided below and then contact us if you have further questions or need our legal help. One of our specialties is representing people who make workers’ compensation claims.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Employers are required to purchase insurance coverage to provide benefits to employees who are hurt in the performance of their duties at work in Pennsylvania (this is the website for workers’ compensation in PA).
Like other forms of insurance, premiums are set based on the level of risk involved. A company who employs steelworkers pays premiums based on common injuries suffered by that type of worker and the cost and severity of those injuries. The same is true of companies who employ office workers, the common kinds and types of injuries may be different and more or less expensive.
Workers’ compensation insurance is the name for the insurance that covers employers for injuries suffered by their employees in the course of their work. Some employers think this protects them from being sued by an employee who is hurt at work. It’s important for anyone who has a workers’ compensation claim to contact an attorney who specializes in workplace injuries because in some instances an employee may still be successful in suing their employer over such incidents even if the employer has workers’ compensation insurance.
Obviously, it depends greatly on the circumstances of the injury. Workers’ compensation claims are extremely complex and if you don’t know the law can be extraordinarily difficult and time-consuming. If you are injured the last thing you want to do is try and learn a new area of law. Check out our post on filing a workers’ compensation claim.
What if the Injury Aggravates an Existing Condition?
Some people don’t think about the repercussions of an injury at work on the rest of their health. Often if an employee has arthritis or a degenerative disc disease these conditions are aggravated, accelerated or reactivated by an injury in the workplace. This is a surprise to many people because most people don’t think about workers’ compensation laws until they are injured…and then they have other things to think about. Conversely, in our practice, it’s practically all we think about.
That is why we are the perfect team to guide you through a workers’ compensation claim for your arthritis or degenerative disc disease when it’s aggravated by a workplace injury.
Workers’ compensation for arthritis may be a surprise to many people. If you suffer from arthritis then you already know about the pain and discomfort that is associated with this affliction. Inflammation of joints, connective tissue, and the tissue surrounding joints are some of the most common symptoms of this rheumatic condition.
Included under the umbrella of “arthritis” are systemic lupus erythematosus, gout, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis. Joints (shoulders, hips, hands, wrists, and knees) suffer from swelling, pain, stiffness, redness, and swelling which limits the function of supportive structures and surrounding body parts. Injuries at work can exacerbate this condition and cause the condition to reactivate or worsen.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Similarly, workers’ compensation for degenerative disc disease is available. Neck pain and lower back pain may be caused by what is known as degenerative disc disease. As a person ages, the spinal discs degenerate which causes them to stop absorbing shocks. This is an extremely common condition because it is part of the aging process (so almost everyone experiences the pain and discomfort associated with it).
Ironically, it’s not a disease at all, despite its name, but a medical “condition” caused by either herniated disc, ruptured disc or slipped disc. Pain occurs one the individual suffers an additional injury to the neck or back. If this additional injury happens in the workplace then workers’ compensation benefits may be appropriate for the worker. Check out this post specifically about degenerative disc disease.
Aggravating Injuries in the Workplace
Jobs that include repetition of motion, activities that are considered “high-impact, or being sedentary for long periods of time are often aggravating to a pre-existing condition like arthritis or degenerative disc disease.
Highly manual jobs that require repetitive heavy lifting, turning, twisting or bending can lead to neck or back injuries. These injuries then aggravate existing degenerative disc disease or arthritis. Almost any job that can lead to a neck or back injury has potential to aggravate these conditions.
Workers’ Compensation for aggravation of Arthritis and Degenerative Disc Disease
It may seem to defy logic that these conditions (when pre-existing) are compensable through workers’ compensation benefits. Why are they covered? Because pre-existing conditions are covered.
Even if these conditions make a worker more prone to future injuries. In Pennsylvania, a new injury only needs to be a “material factor” in reactivation, acceleration, or aggravation of the condition to be compensable through workers’ compensation. Of course, that work-related injury must result in the inability to work.
Arthritis and Degenerative Disc Disease and Workers’ Compensation Laws
In Pennsylvania, as in most states, the law requires that most employers carry workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance is specifically for injuries to workers while the worker is performing their duties. Workers are generally covered without regard to employer “culpability” or any pre-existing conditions of the employee.
The test for eligibility for workers’ compensation claims is threefold: 1. Employee experiences an injury (physical or mental) in discharging their duties at work. 2. The employee is unable to work as a result. And 3. Notice of the injury was given to the employer before the statutorily required period expired. Contact one of our Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers. We can help.
At Krasno, Krasno & Onwudinjo, we dedicate ourselves to representing clients who have been injured in the workplace. We can take the complexity and difficulty out of this process for our clients. After all, we’ve been in this practice since 1936, we know what we’re doing. To speak with a member of our experienced workers’ compensation legal team, please call us at (215) 515-4615 or send us a brief online message here.