All workers compensation attorneys in Palm Beach County are familiar with the term “preexisting injury.” In the world of Florida’s workers’ compensation system, the use of the word preexisting is a favorite of insurance company doctors who will try to shut down your case by telling you the reason that your back is killing you, your legs and feet are on fire and your toes are numb is because you have a preexisting injury.
Once the insurance company hears that, they will shut down your medical care, stop issuing your checks and tell you to go back to work full duty or you will probably get fired.
Injured worker responses may include:
Are you crazy?
Let’s be real, there is no way a roofer can climb a ladder, a bricklayer can crawl on knees or a laborer lift heavy equipment with a herniated disc, torn meniscus or ruptured bicep. But get sent to a work comp doctor who only cares to make the insurance company happy and before you know it you are being told you have a preexisting injury. This is why it is helpful to have a workers compensation attorney in Palm Beach County.
But what does that mean?
The term preexisting is being used in work comp to say that there is an underlying medical condition that exists In your body that you may never have known about, may neverhave had treatment for and may neverhave found out about but for the workplace accident or injury. Think arthritis. That is a favorite of the work comp doctors.
But wait, it gets weirder.
Not only will the doctors say that you have this condition, but that the major cause of your need for treatment is this mysterious condition that you never knew about, never had pain from and never needed treatment for.
So, for example, a 50 year old roofer falls 15 feet off the ladder and lands on a bucket of paint. He immediately has an onset of low back pain and a burning sensation shooting down his leg and into his feet. He has never hada day off, never hurt his back, never had any medical care for his back and has not even had a chiropractor adjustment. He goes to the work comp doctor who reviews an MRI and tells the worker that he has a herniation; however, the herniation was not caused by the fall. It was really arthritis and was probably there for many years and even though they need to do a surgery to fix it, it isn’t because he just fell 15 feet onto his back on top of a bucket of paint.
One would think that the workers’ compensation laws are set up to protect injured employees. That is logical and reasonable after all.
But it is not that way. What is reasonable and logical is not part of work comp in Florida.
When you are hurt at work, do not rely on your employer, the work comp carrier and especially not the workers’ compensation doctors to do the right thing. This is not to say all work comp doctors are evil and out to get you. It just means that many of them will be quick to point to reasons other than the workplace injury when deciding why you need treatment.
Do not wait for someone else to help you after being hurt at work. Call the Law Offices of Franks, Koenig & Neuwelt for an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Palm Beach County right away.