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Workers' Compensation - Preexisting Injuries

If you are injured in a work incident in Rhode Island and the insurer or your employer denies your claim on the basis that you have a preexisting condition or injury, you may still be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. If a doctor deems that the incident aggravated a preexisting condition, you are entitled to compensation. This is especially important to those many people who have preexisting back pain and other ailments.

Take the example of a worker who suffers from low back pain that he would describe as a muscle ache after more strenuous days at work. That worker may treat with a doctor from time to time, or may have mentioned to his own primary care physician that he suffers from occasional low back pain. One day that worker goes to lift a box that he thought was not particularly heavy but it turns out was very heavy and he fells an immediate pull and sharp pain in his low back. The employer may be aware, through conversations between the worker and co-employees, or through sick time approval requests, that the worker has a history of low back pain. The insurer may, based on that history, deny the claim.

However, because the worker aggravated his preexisting low back injury in a work incident he is entitled to Rhode Island workers' compensation benefits just as much as if he had no history of low back pain and suffered a "new injury".

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