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Doctors' Reports and the Question of Pre-existing Conditions

Words matter. This is true in every aspect of human life. And it's no different when a workplace injury is involved.

Pennsylvania workers' compensation attorneys know that how a medical condition, illness or injury is described in a doctor's report has consequences. This is because an injury must be work-related to trigger eligibility for work comp benefits.

Put another way, worker's compensation does not apply when the injury in question was caused by a pre-existing condition.

Not surprisingly, employers have a tendency to try to present an injury as due to a pre-existing condition. Employees need to be wary of this, to protect their rights to workers' comp after an on-the-job injury.

For example, if an employee is lifting something at work, tendons in the arms or legs can become strained and torn. Tears can also be caused by other work activities that put pressure on the tendon. In some cases, the tears could be due to a condition the employee already had.

But let's suppose that an MRI exam finds that the strain is "acute." Such a finding makes it more likely that the employee will be able to show that the injury was caused by a specific work incident - and thus be able to receive workers' compensation.

To determine whether the injury was caused by work, it will be necessary to closely examine the specific daily job duties that the employee performs.

The challenge is to distinguish general conditions, such as arthritis, from specific work injuries. How doctors describe these distinctions is important for the employee's chances of establishing workers' comp eligibility.

Source: "Five Buzzwords to Look for When Determining Causal Relation in Workers Comp Claims," WorkersCompensation.com, 4-9-12

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