Court rules on impact of pre-existing conditions on workers’ comp in NY

In some cases, workers with a pre-existing condition can still receive workers' compensation benefits if injured while on-the-job.

The New York Supreme Court Appellate Division's 3rd Judicial Department in Albany agreed to hear an appeal on a case between a worker and an employer on whether or not the worker should receive full workers' compensation benefits based on an injury received while on-the-job. The employer argued that the worker should not be entitled to these benefits due to a pre-existing condition, but the worker countered that the condition was unrelated to the accident.

The court considered the question of whether or not a pre-existing condition could bar or reduce an injured employee's workers' compensation benefits and held in favor of the worker.

More on the case

A recent article in Business Insurance, an online resource that caters to business executives, discussed the case. The case involved a worker who suffered from a pre-existing neck condition that dated back to 2000. This condition required the worker to receive surgeries and various treatments.

The worker requested workers' compensation benefits after he fell at work and injured his back in October of 2010. The Workers' Compensation Law Judge that reviewed the case ruled in favor of the worker, entitling him to receive full benefits. The employer appealed the ruling, arguing that due to the pre-existing condition the worker should not be entitled to receive full benefits.

The appeals court reviewed the arguments, and found that the injury was not connected to the pre-existing condition. Although the worker was working with some work restrictions, he was working full time at the time of the accident and the employer had provided no evidence that the pre-existing condition had led to an unsatisfactory completion of work responsibilities. As a result, the court found that the employee should receive full workers' compensation benefits.

Impact of the case

This case provides lessons for anyone injured while on-the-job in New York. The court ruled in favor of the worker, and workers in similar situations who suffer from pre-existing conditions but complete satisfactory, full-time work for their employers would likely receive a similar ruling.

In order to find in the workers' favor, the court needed to find that the evidence established that the pre-existing condition did not contribute to the accident. Making such a case can be difficult, as the employer will argue that there was some connection between the accident or the injury and a pre-existing condition. If the employer is successful, the benefits are reduced or even denied.

As a result, those who find themselves in a similar situation are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced workers' compensation lawyer. This legal professional will guide you through the process, advocate for your rights and work to better ensure you receive the benefits you are entitled to.

Keywords: job accident workers' compensation