Pre-Existing Injuries and Workers’ Compensation

The longer we live and work, the more likely it is that our medical history contains injuries, illnesses, or impairments of varying degrees. Some conditions may fade away entirely never to trouble you again. Other conditions, however, may no longer be noticeable or impair you today, but may leave you more vulnerable to injury or reappear if triggered by an event, mishap or injury.

When a workplace accident worsens a pre-existing medical condition or injury, the pre-existing condition can have an effect on the availability and amount of workers’ compensation benefits you receive for the work injury. Workers’ compensation covers injuries or illness that “arise out of and occur in the course and scope of employment.” When an employee has a pre-existing condition prior to the accident, the employer or its insurer may assert that benefits should not be provided in whole or in part because the injury did not “arise out of” the employment but arose out of whatever caused the pre-existing condition in the first place.

In New Mexico, when a preexisting condition combines with a work-related injury to cause a disability, an employee is entitled to benefits commensurate with the resulting disability. Courts do not apportion workers’ compensation benefits according to different causal factors as long as the disability is a natural and direct result of the accident as required by the Workers’ Compensation Act. Furthermore, it does not diminish the worker’s entitlement to benefits even if the preexisting condition made the worker more susceptible to injury, nor does it matter that without the preexisting condition the work-related injury might have been less disabling or perhaps not disabling at all.

It is important to note that a court will not “combine” the impairment caused by a pre-existing injury with that caused by a workplace injury absent a causal connection between the two injuries.

The Law Offices of Jeffrey C. Brown: Fighting for New Mexico Workers

We know how hard you work, and we’ll work just as hard for you. Call the Law Offices of Jeffrey C. Brown & Derek Thompson today at (505) 275-6600 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free initial consultation to discuss your workers’ compensation matter. We look forward to helping you get back on your feet, and back to work.

This website has been prepared by the Law Offices of Jeffrey C. Brown for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.