Call Us Today - It's Free!

Am I Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits if I have a Prior Injury or Preexisting Injury?  

Our Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in the Bronx Explains What Happens When You Have a Prior Injury or Preexisting Injury

QUESTION: Am I entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if I have a prior or preexisting injury in New York?

ANSWER: Yes, you are generally entitled to recover compensation through workers’ compensation if you have a prior injury or preexisting injury in New York.  However, the amount you receive may be reduced due to your prior injury or preexisting injury.  The total amount that is reduced is not set by any statute or regulation, but rather the opinion or opinions of medical doctors.  That means that the total amount you may be entitled to could be a major point of argument in your WC claim.  This is why it is important to have an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in The Bronx to help you.

In fact, the adjuster for the workers’ compensation carrier will likely focus on your prior injury and preexisting injury almost extensively.  This will be the subject of your independent medical examination, or IME, which is a medical examination that is performed by a doctor of the WC carrier’s choosing (not really independent).  Your prior injury and preexisting injury may also be the subject of a deposition or Workers’ Compensation Board hearing, where the carrier’s adjuster and attorney will focus on what previously happened, how it affected you, and what your limitations may have been before your current accident.

But that does not mean that you will not be able to recover compensation.  Generally, you will be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits that reflect the new amount of disability caused by the new work-related injury.  For example, if your prior injury or preexisting injury resulted in a disability of 10%, if your new worker related injury results in a disability of 50%, you may be entitled to recover up to 40% (the difference).  The carrier will argue the amount of disability should be higher, whereas your experienced workers’ compensation lawyer will argue that the amount of disability should be lower.

Common Prior and Preexisting Injuries That Can Still Result in Workers’ Compensation Benefits

 Nearly any prior injury or preexisting injury can result in an award through workers’ compensation benefits.  Some of the most common examples of preexisting or prior injuries that are still eligible for workers’ comp benefits include the following:

  • Prior surgeries
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Knee injuries
  • Tendon or muscle repairs
  • Eye sight (i.e., has LASIK or another vision surgery)
  • Old broken bones that re-break in a new accident
  • Dental procedures, and
  • Any other type of serious injury that caused damage to your body that may not have healed all the way.

Be Truthful About Your Prior Injury and Preexisting Injury (You Can Still Recover Benefits!)

It is important that you are truthful with these questions and providing accurate information.  It is okay if you do not remember information or need to refresh your recollection by going through your medical record or asking your attorney for help with the facts.  This is particularly true if your preexisting injury occurred in high school sports but you are not middle-aged and injured at work.  It is also acceptable if you have an ailment, such as a back ache that you may complain about at work, but never received treatment for.  Always declare and explain those injuries and aches too because it is likely someone at work might tell your supervisor.

But it is not okay to misrepresent or lie to the carrier about your prior injuries or illnesses.  If you do, you may face stiff penalties and even be charged with a crime.  This is because workers’ compensation law has a provision which requires a claimant to accurately report information.  A claimant who provides false or material misrepresentations can be barred from recovering any WC benefits.  Never lie about your injuries or your work, even old prior injuries or preexisting injuries.

It also does not make sense to do that either.  A prior injury or preexisting injury can still result in you recovering compensation from workers’ compensation benefits.  If you lie or try to hide a prior injury, you may end up losing any type of benefit and having to pay a penalty.  When in doubt, always ask your experienced workers’ compensation lawyer for help.

If You Have a Prior Injury or Preexisting Injury, Ask Our Bronx WC Lawyers in for Help

We hope this FAQ was helpful. More FAQ questions and answers are available here

But if you still have questions about what is workers’ compensation in New York, call to schedule a FREE consultation with the experienced workers’ compensation lawyers in The Bronx at O’Connor Law to learn more about how we can help you.  You can reach us by dialing (914) 595-4502 or sending us a private message through our “Contact Us” box available here.

  • bronx
  • larchmont
  • mount vernon
  • ossining
  • port chester
  • westchester
  • white plains
  • yonkers