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Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld

Relentlessly Protecting California Workers' Rights Since 1956

The Implications of Pre-Existing Conditions in California Workers’ Compensation Cases

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At Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld, our Santa Barbara workers’ compensation attorneys know California employers must provide workers’ compensation benefits for work-related injuries or illnesses, regardless of whether the worker has a pre-existing condition.

A pre-existing condition can encompass anything from work injuries sustained years ago to chronic diseases. California considers aggravated pre-existing conditions as separate injuries. This means that the state will not limit potential benefits to the specific instance of aggravation.

If the employee requires new medical treatment or a modification to the current course of treatment, they are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

However, since our California workers’ compensation attorneys have protected workers’ rights since 1956, we know the system is not straightforward. Employees of all types, especially those suffering from pre-existing conditions, can expect significant resistance from a benefits system not designed to protect their best interests. This is why we are here.

California Workers’ Compensation Covers Injuries Related to Pre-Existing Conditions

If a work-related injury aggravates or worsens a pre-existing condition, the injured worker may still be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. California law allows injured workers to receive benefits for the portion of the disability directly caused by the work-related injury, even if it exacerbates a pre-existing condition.

Like other workers’ compensation injuries, the employee must establish a causal link between the work-related injury and the pre-existing condition.

This can be complex but can be established through medical evidence, including:

  • Detailed medical records and reports, including comprehensive medical documentation to demonstrate how the work-related injury impacted their pre-existing condition.
  • Medical opinions and expert testimony to determine how the workplace injury affected the pre-existing condition.

Once the injuries are established, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company may attempt to reduce the workers’ benefits to account for the portion of the disability attributable to the pre-existing condition.

This is called apportionment and is an attempt by the insurers to minimize their liability.

Injured workers have the right to challenge the extent of apportionment determinations, especially if they believe the pre-existing condition did not significantly contribute to their disability.

Our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys can help California workers navigate the process, gather evidence, and advocate for fair compensation, starting with a free consultation.

We have six physical offices in Bakersfield, Fresno, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Ventura, and Visalia, and our top-tier technologies provide a virtual reach to serve clients throughout California. We offer free in-person, telephone, and virtual consultations to offer straightforward legal advice for your unique needs.

Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options to pursue the workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to despite having a pre-existing condition. 

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