Visitor Question

Back injury at work with pre-existing medical conditions?

Submitted By: Kathy (Ivins, Utah)

I recently injured my back lifting a pediatric patient (I am an RN.) An MRI last year showed minor lumbar osteoarthritis in all vertebrae and two bulging disks without intrusion into the spinal canal.

I am used to chronic pain since I also have a very mild inflammatory arthritis (systemic) and fibromyalgia (also mild). This injury caused sharp pain in a different area of my back than I am used to.

I live in Utah, if that’s helpful at all. I’m 64, and cannot afford to retire or go on disability. Also, I love my job. What would you suggest regarding Workman’s Comp? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Kathy,

A pre-existing condition could make your claim worth less because it raises a lot of questions about the connection between your inflammatory arthritis and fibromyalgia, and your most recent back injury.

The State of Utah bases its position on preexisting injuries on its common law. Common law is made up of case law, court orders, and precedent which is directly related to the issue at hand. In Utah, the common law is based on a Utah Supreme Court ruling in Valdez v. Labor Commission, 2017 Utah App. 64.

The Valdez case holds preexisting injuries to be incorporated into the mix when a new injury occurs. In that regard, if it can be shown your new injury aggravated your previous condition, you will be entitled to compensation apportioned between your new injury with no preexisting condition.

Contact your employer and report your injury.

Once you notify your employer, they will file an Employer’s First Report Of Injury or Illness. Then it will be up to the workers’ comp insurance company what portion of your new injury will be compensated. If you disagree with their assessment, you can file a dispute with the Utah Labor Commission.

Learn more here: Workers’ Comp and Pre-existing Conditions

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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