The Blog

Pre-existing conditions and workers’ compensation

Just because you have a pre-existing condition does NOT mean your work injury should be denied. A core concept in the law is the “eggshell plaintiff rule.” It says that even someone whose bones break as easily as an eggshell can still fully recover for all injuries resulting from a tort, even if the act that caused those injuries would not have hurt the average person nearly as badly. In workers’ compensation, that means that even if you have a severe pre-existing condition, if it was made worse by a work-related injury, then you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

A colorful case from Indiana provides a good example of this concept. In it, a morbidly obese employee suffered from diabetes and used a cane because of her bad knees. At an employee appreciation dinner she got stuck in a booth and ended up cracking her femur (thigh bone) trying to get out of the booth. The fact that her pre-existing condition (obesity and leg problems) contributed to her injury was irrelevant thanks to the eggshell plaintiff rule. Waters v. Indiana State Univ., 953 N.E.2d. 1108 (Ind. Ct. App. 2011).

For you, this rule means that even if you had a very bad back before your work injury, for example, you should still get workers’ compensation benefits if your bad back was made worse by a work injury. Oftentimes insurance companies will ignore the eggshell plaintiff rule and deny liability for work injuries because of a pre-existing condition. They are wrong when they do this. You need an attorney to help make the insurance company do the right thing and accept liability for your work injury, even if you have a pre-existing condition. Don’t hesitate. Call Banks Law today.