Fault and pre-existing conditions in workers’ compensation claims

After you get hurt on the job in New Hampshire, workers’ compensation benefits can protect you from financial catastrophe, but misinformation and confusion can keep people from getting crucial benefits.

Workers’ compensation benefits are better than standard health insurance because there is no patient responsibility for the cost. Additionally, if you have approval for medical coverage and the condition is serious enough, you can likely also ask for disability benefits while you aren’t working. 

Some people don’t file a claim because their medical condition existed before they took the job. Others don’t file a claim because they were fully or partially at fault for their injury. Does fault matter in a workers’ compensation claim? What about pre-existing conditions?

Condition onset dates matter last than aggravating factors caused by the job

If you are an administrative professional, you may have had mild symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome for years before you even started your most recent position. 

However, if your new job exacerbates your underlying, pre-existing condition or worsens the symptoms you experience, you could potentially still qualify for workers’ compensation. You only need to show that your current symptoms — or the progression of your condition — are a direct result of your current job responsibilities.

Workers’ compensation is designed to be a no-fault system

If fault played a role in workers’ compensation coverage, nobody would want to do the most dangerous work. Everyone would say no to chopping vegetables, using a welding torch or repairing a machine press. 

People voluntarily perform dangerous tasks because they know that if they get hurt, they have protection. Someone who cuts their own finger off or who makes a mistake while performing their job duties has the same right to coverage as someone hurt by a freak occurrence, such as an electrical short circuit in a device. Typically, only criminal acts or chemical impairment prevent you from getting benefits. 

Understanding your rights when it comes to workers’ compensation benefits is the first step toward standing up for them. You deserve benefits if an injury from your job has caused medical bills or will mean you lose out on wages.