(434) 384-9400 Lynchburg Office

(540) 554-3762 Roanoke Office

Serving Clients Throughout Virginia

Can You Claim Workers’ Comp for a Pre-existing Injury in Virginia?


What happens if you suffered an accident on the job, but your work injury coincides with an old injury that wasn’t work-related? The insurance adjuster or employer may try to deny your workers ‘compensation claim, asserting that a pre-existing injury is not compensable. However, Virginia workers’ comp law does cover a work injury if it aggravated an old condition.

The keyword is “aggravated.” Under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, an employee may claim workers’ comp benefits for the aggravation of the pre-existing injury, not the pre-existing injury itself. However, it can be extremely challenging to prove to the insurer that the work injury did aggravate the old injury. If this is your situation, having an experienced workers’ comp attorney will be crucial in your claim.

What are examples of an aggravated pre-existing injury?

In general, if your work accident exacerbated or worsened your old symptoms, or if it accelerated the development of your old injury, it may be an aggravation of that pre-existing injury.

Some conditions that can be aggravated by a work accident include:

  • Arthritis of the hands, legs, hips, and other joints
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Knee pains
  • Foot injuries like plantar fasciitis, sprains, etc.

Let’s say, for example, that you had a slipped disc or herniated disc years ago while doing chores at home. After a surgery and a therapy course, you were able to go back to full-duty work. But then an accident at your workplace injured your back again, and since then, you’ve had severe back pain that stops you from working and requires a bigger operation like lumbar fusion surgery.

In this example, you may be entitled to medical benefits for the new treatments you need, as well as compensation for the lost wages caused by your new disability.

Will your pre-existing injury affect your workers’ comp claim?

Having a pre-existing injury does not bar you from claiming workers’ comp for your job injury. However, you do have to prove that this recent job injury aggravated your old condition. In addition, you’ll want to be honest to your lawyer about your pre-existing injury. If your employer or their insurance company finds out that you were hiding a pre-existing condition, they could use that to damage your claim.

One example happened to a Virginia school worker who hurt her knee after a fall. Her doctor gave her an impairment rating of 37 percent, indicating that she had some extent of permanent disability. The Virginia Workers Compensation Commission then awarded her permanent partial disability benefits.

Unfortunately, her employer discovered that the doctor gave the impairment rating without considering the woman’s old knee injury, which was unrelated to her work. The employer was able to argue that the impairment rating – and the resulting benefits award – were incorrect. Because of this, the worker could not receive compensation.

It’s always wise to consult a trusted workers’ comp attorney early on in your claim. If you’re worried that your pre-existing injury would lead to a denial of your claim, a competent lawyer can help you determine your best next steps and effectively advocate for your rights.

How can you prove a pre-existing injury was aggravated?

First, we need to establish that your recent work injury is indeed job-related and is thus compensable. This new injury must have occurred within the scope of your work – in other words, while you were on the clock and doing your work tasks.

We must then show that this recent injury caused the worsening of your pre-existing injury. Evidence may include:

  • Your doctor’s statement and/or testimony indicating that your recent work injury exacerbated your old injury
  • Your past and current medical records showing changes in your condition, additional treatments, additional health needs, and the like
  • Documentation of the things you could do before but cannot do now
  • Documentation of your worsened symptoms or new symptoms that you didn’t experience before.

It’s also important to choose a workers’ comp lawyer who has a good track record in representing workers. When a case involves a pre-existing condition, the insurance company will likely use that to minimize the claim as much as possible, especially by disputing the aggravation claim. Get the help of an attorney who’s experienced in facing insurers and has obtained favorable outcomes for injury claimants.

Talk to a Reliable Virginia Workers’ Comp Lawyer

In Virginia, workers trust Attorney Jaleh K. Slominski for her excellent handling of workers’ compensation claims. She has obtained fair compensation on behalf of numerous clients, even in cases involving pre-existing injuries.

Talk to Attorney Slominski about your recent job injury and prior medical conditions. Contact us by email, or call (434) 384-9400 (in Lynchburg) or (540) 554-3762 (in Roanoke).