After your workplace injury left you unable to work, you were grateful for your workers’ comp benefits. With the compensation, you were able to pay your medical bills—including doctor visits and physical therapy—and keep up with other bills while not receiving a paycheck. While your workplace accident was well-documented and you did not have any problems qualifying for workers’ comp benefits, you can rest assured that your employer’s workers’ comp insurance company is eager to stop paying the benefits. They will look for any indication that you no longer need treatment and that you are able to return to work. This makes sense—after all, the goal of workers’ comp benefits is to pay your expenses as you recover so that you can return to work. However, if you suffer another injury or develop a serious illness while on worker’s comp benefits, you could be cut off with little warning.
How Intervening Injuries Affect Workers’ Comp Benefits
The workers’ comp benefits you are receiving are only intended to be used to treat the injury or illness you suffered as a direct result of workplace conditions. If you are in an accident or are diagnosed with an illness that is not related to the original workplace injury, your workers’ comp benefits will not cover the cost of treatment. Because of this, benefits are often automatically stopped when the insurer learns of the new illness or injury. Some ways this can happen include:
- You stop treatment for the original injury due to a new illness or injury.
- Your doctor orders you to stop working due to the non-work-related injury.
- Your employer uses your new injury as an excuse to stop paying for your workplace injury.
Without the help of an experienced Kansas City workers’ comp attorney, you are not likely to be able to argue for what is rightfully yours. There are situations where workers’ comp benefits can continue even after an intervening injury or illness, but you will need to fight for it.
When Benefits May Continue Following an Intervening Injury
Suffering an additional injury while collecting workers’ comp benefits is not uncommon. Sometimes, these intervening injuries are, in fact, caused by weaknesses and conditions created by the original workplace injury. This type of injury is known as a dependent injury and should not be grounds for loss of workers’ comp benefits. For example, if you suffered an on-the-job injury to your back, it could be difficult for you to go up and down the stairs in your home. If you fall down the stairs and break an arm, an attorney could argue on your behalf that the broken arm was caused by the injured back and that your workers’ comp benefits should continue. Likewise, if it can be proven that the treatment you are receiving has made your injury worse—for example, aggressive physical therapy or medication side effects—your original workers’ comp award should continue.
If, however, you suffer an accident, injury, or illness that is not related in any way to your original workplace injury, your workers’ comp benefits will not cover any expenses or loss of income related to the new injury. Unfortunately, this circumstance often leads to complete cancellation of your benefits when it shouldn’t. While your benefits will not cover the new injury or illness, they should continue to cover the costs associated with the original injury. Again, you will need a workers’ comp attorney to make this case for you.
How Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys Can Help
If you are collecting workers’ comp benefits and suffer an intervening injury, contact our law office immediately to put us to work on appealing any cancellation of benefits. We will investigate the cause of your intervening injury and, if appropriate, argue that it was dependent upon your original workplace injury. If the intervening injury is unrelated to your original injury, we will fight to keep the coverage you had to treat only that injury. This is a complicated issue. Call our office today with any questions you have.