When applying for a new job your potential employer wants to know about your past work experience, your educational background, if you have a criminal record and depending on the position may require both a drug test and physical.
In the past you suffered an on-the-job injury with another employer. The injury healed and doesn’t show up during the physical examination. In fact, you are given a clean bill of health and offered the job.
Then one day as part of your normal duties, you lift a couple of boxes and aggravate the old injury. Is your current employer responsible for your medical care and lost wages or is it within his legal right to refuse to file your claim since the initial injury occurred under a former employer?
Many times the current employer’s insurer will deny an injured worker’s claim using the argument the latest injury was a result of a pre-existing condition and therefore not caused by the most recent accident. This is one of the most common methods insurers use to deny the initial claim.
It is important to remember with all workplace accidents whether those causing a new injury or exacerbating a prior injury, the current employer is required under South Carolina Workers’ Compensation to cover all medical bills and any lost wages. Obviously since your current employer’s insurance carrier wants only to be responsible for what occurred under their watch, their representatives will closely monitor your medical team to ensure nothing is overlooked. This is especially true if both the previous and the new work-related injury involve the same body part. Therefore it is vital you are up-front with your current physician. There will always be a “paper trail” with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission that can be requested. These files, along with your previous medical records can assist your doctor in evaluating and diagnosing your condition.
What if your physician determines you have now suffered a temporary or permanent disability? Obviously, if the current injury is “fresh” and in no way connected to the prior injury then your current employer is responsible for financial compensation contingent on your physician’s diagnosis.
In South Carolina depending on the severity of your injury, you could be considered:
- Temporarily Partially Disabled—the injury has limited what you can physically do at your current position but you can work in a different capacity.
- Temporarily Totally Disabled—you currently are totally disabled but your medical team expects you to make a complete recovery.
- Permanently Partially Disabled—while your doctor has determined you are permanently disabled, he or she also believes you can return to work in some capacity.
- Permanently Totally Disabled—under South Carolina Workers’ Compensation law you are unable to work under any capacity.
It is important to keep in mind the benefits you may be eligible for from the current accident could be affected by prior claims and if the end result is permanent partial or permanent total disability, benefits covered by the current employer’s insurer could be decreased depending on any past settlement.
As you can see from this brief overview a reoccurring workplace injury can be a very complicated situation and one which almost always requires the services of a competent workers’ compensation attorney like the experienced legal professionals at Dan Pruitt Law Firm. Please call us today at 864-232-4273 to schedule a free consultation. Hablamos espanol en Dan Pruitt Law Firm.
Dan Pruitt is a Personal Injury Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from University of Georgia, and has been practicing law for 25 years. Dan Pruitt believes in fighting for the injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.