A worker with pre-existing conditions may not be exempt from receiving workers' compensation benefits in North Carolina. When a workplace accident aggravates a condition that existed before the accident, the injured worker can recover full workers' comp benefits. The worker can receive the benefits even if the accident would not have necessarily caused injury or death to someone without such a pre-existing condition.
NC Workplace Back Injuries
This is true most commonly in cases that involve workplace back injuries. The fact that an employee has an injured or weak back before the accident does not prevent the worker from collecting full workers' comp benefits when an accident causes injury to an already injured back.
The relative contributions of the accident and the pre-existing condition are not considered. An employer must accept an employee as they are, if a compensable injury precipitates a latent physical condition such as heart disease, cancer or back weakness, the entire disability is payable. Courts have also ruled that injuries arising out of (and in the course of) employment that aggravate a pre-existing heart condition and caused death, are payable.
Accidents Make Pre-existing Injuries Worse
Injured NC workers benefit from this law, however it's not simple to exercise. The NC Industrial Commission's reaction is unpredictable. It's difficult to know if the Industrial Commission or the court will rule that the accident caused the injury. Even where there are claims that accidents made pre-existing conditions worse, the worker still must prove that the accident had some part in causing the injury.
NC Workers' Comp Lawyers in the Triangle
As with many issues arising in workers' comp cases, it's difficult to predict whether an accident or condition at work that makes a pre-existing condition worse is compensable. Experienced workers' comp lawyers in Raleigh, Fayetteville and Dunn with Brent Adams & Associates increase the chances of collecting benefits from an employer.