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Seasoned Sacramento Injury Attorneys

What Is Aggravation of a Pre-Existing Condition?


The Aggravation of a pre-existing condition refers to the worsening of a pre-existing condition caused by a new work-related injury. This is distinct from the mere exacerbation of a pre-existing condition, which is not covered under workers’ comp.

People go to work with pre-existing conditions every day. These conditions are previously established injuries or illnesses that can include herniated disks, knee injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, anxiety, depression, and others like these.

New Injuries Are Key

Most people know they can’t file workers’ comp claims for old or non-work-related injuries. What they may not realize is that the mere worsening of a pre-existing condition over time is not likely to make one eligible for workers’ comp benefits.

Whenever a pre-existing condition is involved, a workplace accident must include a new injury that aggravates the pre-existing condition.

Imagine a scenario where an employee attempts to lift a 50 lbs. box and suffers a bulging disc injury. The employee has suffered from arthritis in their spine for years, and although the bulging disc is connected to this pre-existing condition, it’s considered a new injury that aggravates the pre-existing condition.

How Pre-Existing Conditions Factor into Workers’ Comp Benefits

If you file a workers’ comp claim for the aggravation of a pre-existing condition, you can expect your employer’s insurer to only compensate you for bills related to the aggravation. This means the claims adjuster will attempt to assess how much of your new injury was caused by the workplace accident and how much of it was caused by the pre-existing condition, deducting the difference from your benefits.

For example, let’s say an employee was involved in a bad car accident five years ago. Ever since, they’ve complained about a stiffness in their neck. Recently, however, the employee was involved in another car accident while traveling between worksites. Now, the employee has a herniated disc and complains of stiffness and pain throughout their back. Because the employee suffered a similar injury years ago, an adjuster will attempt to assess how much of the new back problems are influenced by the employee’s old neck problems. Once a percentage is assessed, it may be deducted from the total workers’ comp benefits.

Do You Need Legal Assistance?

At Smolich and Smolich, we understand that workers’ compensation can be a difficult subject to approach. That said, we know how important it is that our clients get the workers’ comp benefits they need to move forward with their lives.

With our guidance, we can help you pursue the benefits you and your loved ones need. Our attorneys are skilled advocates who care about securing the best possible outcomes for our clients. If you want to preserve your chances for a better tomorrow, especially in spite of a pre-existing condition, we can help.

Contact Smolich and Smolich online now to get started.