Every work injury is different, which is one of the reasons why workers’ compensation law and the compensation system is so complex. However, workers’ compensation can generally be summed up as compensation for an employee that was injured in the line of their work duties. But what if they only aggravated a previous injury that was unrelated to their work? We take a closer look at your compensation options in Minnesota if your original injury occurred off the clock, but your work duties made it worse.
Making An Injury Worse On The Clock
To help explain the situation more clearly, let’s take a look at an example. Jim is a postal worker who is undergoing knee replacement surgery, and his need for a knee replacement operation is not due to his work factors. Although he does walk some on his job, doctors ruled that his knee joint damage was simply the result of natural factors like age and everyday wear and tear.
Jim has his knee replaced and goes through his rehab. After getting medical clearance to return to work, he works a few shifts before tripping during his mail route and landing on his knee. He reopens the surgical site and needs to have it restitched. He is able to continue working the next day, but later he develops an infection in the knee and incurs more medical costs and time away from work. Although the original knee issue was unrelated to work, would Jim still be able to seek workers’ compensation for his trip and fall and subsequent knee infection?
The answer to that question is a resounding yes. Even though the original medical care occurred for a non-work issue, the fall at work and the need for a second round of stitches would be covered assuming he files for compensation and has an injury lawyer by his side. He could also pursue for medical costs related to the infection, but he would likely expect some pushback from workers’ compensation. They may argue that the infection may have been caused by the original replacement operation, but with a good lawyer by his side, Jim’s lawyer could put together a case that should win in court. Using expert opinions from medical doctors or infection specialists, a workers’ compensation lawyer can likely tie the new infection to the work-related fall.
While the above is a pretty specific example, it speaks to the larger issue in regards to making an off the clock injury worse as a result of a workplace accident. Now, that’s not to say that you can break your ankle at the beach over the weekend, then come in Monday, trip on a step and claim workers’ compensation, but you aren’t penalized for actual workplace accidents making a preexisting injury worse. For example, if you broke your arm when you were younger, and the bone was in a weakened state as an adult, you could collect workers compensation if a workplace accident led to a subsequent fracture of the same arm. The fact that it was in a weakened state from an accident years ago will not be held against you when collecting compensation.
So while it can seem complex, know that you have options if an underlying health condition or previous injury is aggravated as a result of your work duties. It may become an uphill battle with your employer’s insurance company, but with a good lawyer by your side, we’re confident that we can help you get the compensation you deserve. Don’t let your employer tell you differently. If you suffered an injury while on the clock or while performing work duties, you should have a right to compensation. Let us help you collect it.
For more information or for help with your case, reach out to Hey Workers today.