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Court Finds Preexisting Condition Bars Employee’s Workers’ Compensation Claim

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2020 | Workers' Compensation Case Law |

Some Georgia workers’ compensation claimants have difficulty proving a workers’ compensation claim if they have pre-existing conditions. In these cases, employers may argue that the pre-existing condition caused the injury rather than an on-the-job incident.

In a recent case, a court considered whether a woman was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits after she was injured at work. The woman claimed that she sustained a brain injury after she slipped and fell while working at a grocery store. Her employer argued that the brain injury was not related to her employment.

After a hearing before an administrative law judge, the judge found that the woman fell after fainting due to her heart condition, rather than because she slipped. At the hearing, the claimant testified that she told her husband that she passed out. Her husband also testified that the she told him that she had slipped. However, a customer testified that the woman passed out, and a co-worker explained the woman was not acting like herself that day. Her co-worker and manager both testified that she said she did not know how she ended up on the floor.

In addition, the claimant had a history of arrhythmia and had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator device implanted in 2011. Her doctor testified that arrhythmia can cause a person’s blood pressure to drop, causing a person to faint. The woman also told medical personnel that she had fainted a week before the incident at the store. Based on this evidence, the state’s supreme court found that the judge was correct and that the woman failed to show that there was a causal relationship between the fall and her employment.

Preexisting Conditions in Workers’ Compensation Claims

In a Georgia workers’ compensation claim, a claimant must show that her injury arose “out of” and “in the course of” the employment. That means that a claimant must show there is a causal connection between the employment and the injury.

In the case of preexisting conditions, a work injury will be compensable if the injury aggravates a preexisting condition. However, if the employee returns to the same condition in which they were before the aggravation of the condition, the injury is no longer compensable. In addition, if the employee falls due to an idiopathic condition, such as epilepsy, the injury is generally considered “personal” and not compensable. However, some injuries may be compensable due to the circumstances surrounding the injury, such as by putting the employee at an increased risk.

Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney

If you have been injured on the job, you may be entitled to Georgia workers’ compensation benefits, even if you have a preexisting condition. The Georgia law office of J. Franklin Burns, P.C. has decades of experience in workers’ compensation claims and provides clients with quality legal representation and responsive client service. Our Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys are authorities on Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws. As former insurance defense attorneys, our attorneys understand the other side’s tactics, and we put that knowledge to use for our clients. For a free consultation, call us at 404-920-4708 or contact us through our online form.