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:
- The nature and severity of the preexisting condition and the extent of restrictions and disability resulting therefrom;
- The nature of the symptoms and the extent of medical treatment prior to the aggravating incident;
- The nature and severity of the aggravating incident and the extent of the restrictions and disability resulting therefrom;
- The nature of the symptoms and extent of medical treatment following the aggravating incident;
- The nature and extent of the employee’s work duties and non-work activities during the relevant period; and
- 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.
If your claim has been denied based on a prior injury, please contact our office today at 651-222-6603 for a free consultation.