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Pre-existing Injuries in Worker Compensation

Pre-existing Injuries in a Worker Compensation Case

In this article, we'll delve into the nuances of howpre-existing conditions can shape your case, as well as their role indetermining the compensation you're entitled to.

AOE COE and the Source of Injury

In the realm of workers' compensation, the concept of “AOE COE” takes center stage. This acronym stands for “ArisingOut of the Course and Scope of Employment.” Essentially, it seeks to establish whether your injury occurred within the context of your work duties. A pivotal factor in this assessment is the presence of pre-existing conditions.

If you have pre-existing conditions, a medical professional will examine whether these conditions were the true cause of your injury or if the incident at work is the primary source. Consider an instance where an individual has a pre-existing back issue. The medical evaluation becomes a crucial step in determining whether the existing back problem remained unchanged after the injury or if the injury worsened it. This distinction leads to classifying the outcome as either an “exacerbation” or an “aggravation”.

An exacerbation refers to a scenario where your condition reverted to its baseline following the injury. On the other hand, an aggravation signifies that the industrial injury resulted in a lasting deterioration of your condition. Deciphering between these two outcomes is a critical aspect of the medical evaluation, as it influences the compensation you may be eligible for.

Apportionment and Permanent Disability

Pre-existing conditions further play a pivotal role in theconcept of “apportionment.” This refers to the doctor's assessment of your permanent disability, specifically in relation to the extent that it can be attributed to sources other than your work-related injury.

Imagine having a pre-existing back problem that was exacerbated by the injury. In this case, the doctor needs to determine the extent to which your current symptoms and condition are a result of thepre-existing issue. This percentage attribution could range from a minorfraction to a significant portion of the overall condition.

However, a legal precedent set by the case Benson emphasizes that doctors must provide a comprehensive explanation for their apportionment decisions. They can't simply attribute a portion of your disability to thepre-existing condition without a detailed rationale. This is significant as permanent disability has direct financial implications, making apportionment apivotal factor in determining the compensation amount.

The Role of Legal Professionals

Navigating the intricate landscape of pre-existing conditions, exacerbation, aggravation, and apportionment is no easy feat. It's in these complex scenarios that the guidance of legal experts becomes invaluable.

Should you find yourself embroiled in a workers' compensation case where pre-existing conditions are a point of contention, seeking legal assistance is highly recommended. Professionals with experiencein this domain understand the intricacies of challenging apportionment, conducting doctor depositions, and constructing compelling arguments in court.


Pre-existing conditions inject a layer of complexity intoworkers' compensation cases, impacting not only the value of your claim butal so your access to future medical care. If you're currently navigating a case involving apportionment or pre-existing conditions, reaching out to legal professionals is a prudent step.

Remember, the burden of proving apportionment rests with thedefendant, not the injured worker. By understanding the nuances of theseconcepts and seeking expert guidance, you can ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you rightfully deserve.

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