Can I file a claim for injury that made my chronic pain worse?

by M

I've had chronic back pain in my lower back for the past 6 years. I've had all sorts of treatments and finally decided to go with surgery 5 years ago. Unfortunately, the surgery did not get rid of the pain completely, so I have found ways to manage the pain. I see a doctor once a month for lidocaine injections to numb the pain, and am also on pain medication.

Recently at my restaurant job (I am a server), I re-injured my back to the point where I have been limping and in pain for nearly a week. I was working my sixth day and was tasked with cleaning up sewage that had flooded the restaurant. I usually only work 5 days in a row due to my back pain, but for some reason, I was scheduled for 6 that week.

Although I do always have some level of pain, I am generally able to walk and perform my job with little to no issues until this last incident. I am currently not working under my employer's orders. So, will I be able to file for workers' comp since I am now unable to work? Am I able to file for workers' compensation if my chronic back pain is preexisting?

I do hope to hear back on this. Thank you for your time, and I appreciate any light you may be able to shed on this subject. Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Can I file a claim for injury that made my chronic pain worse?":

M (USA):

From the facts you present you are entitled to workers' compensation benefits. You were injured on the job. Whether or not your injury was an exacerbation of your previous back injury, a work injury is a work injury, and should be covered by workers' comp.

File a claim with your employer's workers' compensation insurance company. You will be sent to a doctor on the company's list of eligible doctors. The doctor will diagnose the type of injury you have and the type of medical or chiropractic treatment you will need. From the details in your question, there is no reason you should be denied treatment.

There is a caveat. If the doctor who treats you decides your pain and discomfort is strictly a continuation of your preexisting injury, and not an execarbation of the injury, you may be denied workers' comp benefits. If that occurs, you have every right to ask the insurance company to refer you to another approved doctor for a 2nd opinion.

If the second doctor decides your injury is an exacerbation of your previous injury, you will likely be sent to a third doctor. That doctor's opinion will determine which previous doctor's diagnosis is the correct one. You will then be granted or denied benefits. If you are denied benefits, you have the right to appeal.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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