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Reinjure or Aggravate a Prior Injury or Condition at Work

An aggravation or acceleration of a previous condition or injury is very common in workers’ compensation cases. It can occur in the context of an employee having a pre-existing condition like arthritis, or a prior injury like an ACL tear, and then a subsequent injury to that same area. 

The issue in regard to Minnesota workers’ compensation law is what fault can be attributed, if any, to the prior injury/condition and the work-related injury.

The basis standard under Minnesota workers’ compensation law is that an injury is compensable if the employment is a substantial contributing factor to the benefits being sought.  The court in Vanda v. Minn. Mining & Mfg., stated as follows:

The longstanding rule, applied by this court in numerous cases, is that when the usual tasks ordinary to an employee’s work substantially aggravate, accelerate, or combine with a pre-existing disease or latent condition to produce a disability, the entire disability is compensable, no apportionment being made on the basis of relative casual contribution of the pre-existing conditions and the work activities.  

The court looks at several factors to determine whether an aggravation of a preexisting condition is temporary or permanent. These factors include:

  1. The nature and severity of the preexisting condition and the extent of restrictions and disability resulting therefrom;
  2. The nature of the symptoms and the extent of medical treatment prior to the aggravating incident;
  3. The nature and severity of the aggravating incident and the extent of the restrictions and disability resulting therefrom;
  4. The nature of the symptoms and extent of medical treatment following the aggravating incident;
  5. The nature and extent of the employee’s work duties and non-work activities during the relevant period; and
  6. Medical opinions on the issue.

The Minnesota workers’ compensation judge will take all these factors into account to determine whether the aggravation is a permanent or temporary aggravation of the pre-existing condition.  It is important to obtain medical evidence that addresses these factors.

A worker who suffers an exacerbation or aggravation of a pre-existing injury is going to have a difficult time convincing an insurance company that the injury is compensable under Minnesota workers’ compensation law. An insurance company will attempt to find any reason to deny liability for a workers’ compensation injury.

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If your claim has been denied based on a prior injury, please contact our office today at 651-222-6603 for a free consultation.

Author Photo

Joshua R. Stokka

Josh has been representing injured workers for over 10 years. Josh was born and raised in Fargo, North Dakota, and attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminology. Mr. Stokka alson received his law degree from the Hamline University School of Law. During law school, Josh clerked at a Minnesota law firm specializing in personal injury and workers’ compensation. Prior to practicing in the area of workers’ compensation, Josh clerked for a judge in the 7th Judicial District in Minnesota. This valuable experience gave him insight into how judges think, do their jobs behind the scene, and how to frame a case in order to obtain a favorable result.  Now, he focuses 100% of his practice on defending injured workers in Minnesota.

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