Not to be confused with the Second Injury Fund, New Jersey workers’ compensation law generally covers injuries sustained on the job even if a worker suffered a previous injury in the same area of the body. The real question to be answered is whether an injury simply acted up while the worker was on the job, which may not qualify for benefits. On the other hand, an injury qualifies for benefits if the prior injury was aggravated as a result of employment or an injury happened at the site of a prior injury while not being directly related to it.
The following are examples of injuries that should typically merit workers’ compensation benefits:
A fall down the office stairs caused you to break an ankle that was already somewhat weakened by a childhood injury. Regardless of weakness, the ankle was intact prior to the accident, and you should be able to collect benefits.
A previously broken arm should not prevent you from claiming benefits for a repetitive-stress injury caused by overuse of the arm while performing factory work. In fact, chances are that the two injuries are not even in the same area of the arm.
An arthritic condition in your back is not necessarily justification for claim denial when you suffer a back injury due to heavy lifting you are required to do on the job. Even if the injury is in the same place as the arthritis, the two are probably not connected.
Many workers’ compensation claims are straightforward, however, a pre-existing medical condition can easily start a complex appeals process after the insurance company unfairly denies your claim.