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April 7th, 2014

Pennsylvania Courts Recognize Injured Workers’ Rights to Recovery for Pre-Existing Injuries

It is well-established in Pennsylvania that an injured worker who aggravates an old injury can make a workers’ compensation claim to obtain medical treatment and disability payments.

When reviewing aggravation/pre-existing workers’ comp cases, Pennsylvania courts have consistently recognized that employers are liable in aggravation scenarios. In fact, two relatively recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court cases have recognized this principle. See RAG (Cyprus) Emerald Resources, L.P. v. Workers’ Comp. Appeal Bd. (Hopton), a 2007 case and Cinram Mfg., Inc. v. Workers’ Comp. Appeal Bd. (Hill), a 2009 case.

Related: Pennsylvania Injured Workers & Compensation – 3 Basic Things You Should Know

In the Cinram Mfg., Inc. case, the claimant aggravated an old back injury while at work. The main issue in the case was whether the workers’ compensation judge was allowed to amend the Notice of Compensation Payable (NCP) despite the fact that neither side filed a Petition to Amend. The workers’ comp judge found that the claimant had sufficiently proven that he’d aggravated a pre-existing disc herniation with resulting nerve impingement and other medical conditions beyond the lumbar strain and/or sprain which was the subject of the NCP

The Court found that the workers’ comp judge was acting within the boundaries of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act by amending the NCP unilaterally or without being asked to do so.

How to Prove an Aggravation Injury in a Workers’ Compensation Case

In workers’ compensation cases which involve an aggravation of an old injury, the employer will probably argue that the work accident/injury did not actually cause the flare up. Alternatively, the employer may argue that the injury or flare-up has resolved, and the injured worker can get back to work.

The key in proving that an aggravation occurred and has not fully healed lies in the medical evidence. The claimant will have to produce sufficient medical evidence that the injury caused a flare-up or aggravation of the old injury. Therefore, medical records documenting treatment of the old injury will be important, in addition to medical doctor reports which detail how and why the doctor thinks the flare-up was caused by the accident.

More: Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Law – Serious, Permanent Injuries (Specific Loss Benefits)

If you would like to discuss your work accident case with one of our accident lawyers, please call our office at Click To Call and ask for a FREE consultation.

Laffey Bucci D’Andrea Reich & Ryan is a work accident and injury law firm based in Philadelphia. Our work accident lawyers specialize in handling negligence cases against third parties and may handle workers’ compensation cases. Depending on the facts of a given work accident case, the firm may refer the workers’ compensation case to another law firm.

Our lawyers are available for a free, no obligation legal consultation, and can obtain special admission in other states, such as New York or Delaware, on a case by case basis.

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