Can I Get Workers’ Comp for Arthritis or Degenerative Disc Disease?
As many of our articles have discussed, when an injury or illness is “directly caused by” or “results from” working conditions, an employee can collect workers compensation for the illness or injury.
However, collecting workers compensation for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or degenerative disc disease is not always easy or straight forward. This is because arthritis and degenerative disc disease are “caused” by a complex variety of interacting factors. Hereditary, autoimmune factors, obesity, age and pre-existing injuries can all contribute to arthritic conditions.
The law clearly states that if a work injury aggravates, reactivates or accelerates an employee’s arthritis or degenerative disc disease, they are entitled to file for workers’ compensation. However, your employer and/or their workers compensation insurer will often try to prove that it was not working conditions at all – but rather other pre-existing conditions – that caused the arthritis or degenerative disc disease.
For this reason, it is important that an employee who needs to obtain workers comp benefits for arthritis and/or degenerative disc disease discuss their situation with an experienced lawyer.
Workers Comp & Degenerative Disc Disease
Almost everyone experiences some disc degeneration over time with age. However, a sudden injury and/or prolonged working conditions (lifting, repetitive motion, etc.) can accelerate or aggravate degenerative disc disease. Damage such as a slipped disc, ruptured disc or herniated disc, or a tear in the outer core of the disc can result from a single event at work – or can occur over time from prolonged or repetitive work activity.
To collect workers compensation you will have to prove that it was the working event or conditions that caused or aggravated this condition – and that it was not simply the result of age, heredity or a pre-existing injury. The new work-related injury does not have to be the only or exclusive cause of the disability, but it must be at a minimum a material factor in aggravating the preexisting injury.
Workers Comp & Arthritis
The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis – occurring when the cartilage on the ends of an individual’s bones wear down- causing pain, swelling, muscle weakness, and reduced range of motion. Rheumatoid arthritis (also called RA) is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when a person’s immune system attacks the membranes surrounding their joints, causing them to inflame.
In cases of both types of arthritis, if a work injury or working conditions have aggravated, reactivated or accelerated the condition, you are entitled to file for workers’ compensation. However, proving that your work injury or activities are responsible for your inability to work can be difficult. Many times an employer and/or their workers compensation insurer will try to prove that it was not working conditions at all – but rather hereditary or pre-existing conditions – that caused the disability.
In other words, if your arthritis was aggravated or accelerated by your work injury are compensable under workers compensation.
Anaheim Workers Comp Lawyers – Arthritis
Arthritis is one of the most common causes of disability in the United States, with millions of Americans suffering from either rheumatoid or osteoarthritis in their back, shoulders, knees, ankles, fingers, hands, hips and other joints. And millions of other Americans have degenerative disc disease in their back (lumbar, thoracic, or cervical spine). But, unfortunately, because many workers’ compensation cases involving arthritis involve a “pre-existing condition” osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and degenerative disc disease in workers’ compensation claims is often misunderstood.
If your workers compensation insurer denies your claim, do not automatically give up. Because it can be difficult to obtain the workers compensation benefits you’re entitled to when there is a pre-existing condition such as arthritis or disc disease it is important to be represented by an experienced workers compensation lawyer.
If you live in the greater Anaheim area and are suffering from Arthritis or Degenerative Disc Disease and your working conditions – such as lifting, repetitive motion or sudden injury – have worsened your condition, please call our workers compensation lawyers for a free case evaluation.
We can help ensure that you have the proper medical documentation and “proof” to show that your condition was made worse – and that you are entitled to collect workers compensation.