When a worker injures themselves on the job, a workers’ compensation claim can help them recover and pay their bills while they’re waiting for a medical clearance to head back to work. Depending on the situation, however, a preexisting condition could make recovery more of a challenge. While it’s not uncommon for employers to try to reduce what they have to pay out when a workers’ comp claim involves a preexisting condition, there are state laws in place that protect workers’ rights. Let’s take a look at how preexisting conditions can enhance the value of a workers’ compensation case in Maryland.
Preexisting Conditions and Workers’ Comp Claims
In regard to workers’ compensation law, a preexisting condition is a previous medical condition or illness that affects a person’s ability to work. Examples include a repetitive motion injury like carpal tunnel syndrome or a back injury like a herniated disk. A wide variety of medical conditions and injuries can be considered preexisting, so the kind of coverage and workers’ compensation benefits varies as well.
The kind of coverage and benefits available for workers’ compensation depends on the origin of a preexisting condition. If the condition is the result of an old work injury, it’s possible there will be additional benefits if it’s further aggravated or contributes to another condition. If the condition is not related to an old work injury but has contributed to a current injury, benefits eligibility becomes complicated. If it’s proven a condition is completely unrelated to work, workers’ compensation will not be able to pay for medical treatment. Instead, they will only pay for new injuries sustained on the job.
In order to determine the origin of a preexisting condition for a new workers’ compensation claim, it’s important to receive a medical examination and treatment. A doctor who is experienced with workers’ comp claims will know the terms to use and the facts to look for.
Subsequent Injury Fund: Additional Benefits for Disabled Workers
With the Subsequent Injury Fund, employers are persuaded to hire handicapped individuals by limiting liability which the employer would otherwise incur if a disabled or injured employee sustained a new work-related injury. Under Maryland law, the total compensation a covered employee is entitled to equals the amount of compensation that would be available for the combined effects of the previous impairment and the new injury or occupational disease.
It’s important to note that the Subsequent Injury Fund only makes payments for permanent partial disabilities and permanent total disabilities. Benefits are not available for temporary awards. The Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission will deduct the amount of previous awards of compensation for permanent partial disabilities from any Subsequent Injury Fund liability.
Qualifying for Additional Benefits
In Maryland, there are certain qualifications a person must meet to collect benefits from the Subsequent Injury Fund. Those requirements include the following:
- The worker sustains an accidental injury or occupational disease at work
- The worker has a permanent impairment or disease that existed prior to the accidental injury or occupational disease
- The previous impairment was a hindrance or obstacle to their employment
- The combined effects of the preexisting condition and the recent accident cause impairment greater that the effects of the accident injury or occupation disease alone
- The previous impairment and recent accidental injury each result in permanent disability for 125 weeks
- The overall disability is more than 50% of the body as a whole
When an employee applies for Subsequent Injury Fund benefits, the agency reviews and investigates the claim to determine the liability of the employer’s insurers and what benefits they need to pay out. The agency manages a non-budgeted fund from which the benefits are paid to eligible claimants. The amount is determined from the conducted assessments. The application process can seem overwhelming, which is why it’s a good idea to work with an experienced lawyer who can help you submit an application that won’t get rejected.
Get Help From Belsky & Horowitz, LLC
Workers’ compensation claims are complex. Fortunately for those in Baltimore and the surrounding Maryland areas, our law firm offers experienced legal representation. Not only will we review your claim and give you an idea of best to proceed based on your circumstance, but we’ll fight to ensure you receive the compensation you need to recover from your injuries. To learn more about our services and how we can help you with a work-related injury, schedule a case evaluation with a lawyer today.