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What if I go to work injured and the injury becomes worse?

On Behalf of | Mar 25, 2024 | Worker's Compensation

When you are injured or develop an illness at work, you should tell your employer as soon as possible and seek help for your injury or illness. You may already know that a workplace injury or illness could qualify you for workers’ compensation benefits.

However, what if you have an injury or illness that becomes worse because of your job? Are you still qualified to receive workers’ compensation benefits?

Physical movement is a required part of many jobs. But if you sustain an injury with a lengthy recovery period or develop an illness that takes a long time to get over, you might find yourself needing to go back to work before you are fully healed.

Almost all jobs can cause worsening symptoms

Although you might be able to perform your job, an accident or repetitive movement could make the injury or illness more severe. Accidents can happen at any job and many jobs involve repetitive movement. Even office job tasks, such as sitting for extended periods or typing and/or staring at a screen all day can worsen an injury or illness.

Your pre-existing injury or illness could be a factor in a workers’ compensation case, but it may not disqualify you altogether.

There are many health conditions that can get worse due to performing daily work tasks. Back injuries are one of the most common injuries that can get worse while you are at work.

When your job duties put extra stress on your body, mild symptoms from an injury or illness can turn severe and require additional treatment. You might also need to take more time off work to recover and treat your worsened condition.

The eggshell skull rule

Your employer might try to fight your workers’ compensation claim by arguing that you could perform your job if not for your pre-existing condition.

However, generally an employer is responsible for the injury or illness caused to the specific individual involved and not a hypothetical healthy individual. It does not matter if someone else would not have experienced an issue. Your experience is the only one that matters.

This is often called the “eggshell skull” rule, which states that a liable party cannot complain that the results of an injury turned out to be more serious than expected because of a pre-existing condition.

How does a court decide?

This is not a guarantee that you will qualify for worker’s compensation benefits in this situation. A court will examine your specific condition and how it changed because of your job.

A court could focus only on the change in your condition or go back to when it initially started. If your injury or illness occurred before you started the job, that factor will likely be analyzed.

Workers’ compensation benefits are essential for Massachusetts workers and their families. You have rights and options available to you if you are denied benefits. Workers’ compensation benefits can help you pay for medical expenses and allow you the financial cushion you need when your increased symptoms prevent you from working.