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The Flint Journal & Genesee County Bar Association’s “Ask the Attorney”


Q. I injured my back on the job and am in too much pain to work. I did have a back problem years ago. My employer’s insurance company says I can’t get workers’ comp because I have a “pre-existing condition.” Is this true?

A. No. Workers’ compensation law exists to protect all employees, not just the rare Olympic athlete on the payroll who gets injured, but also employees with prior medical problems. In most cases, a claim has long been considered compensable if work causes, aggravates, accelerates or contributes to a disability. To prove an injury occurred or that work did some damage, sometimes an employee has had to point to something “medically distinguishable” from what existed before, such as new, different or increased findings upon examination or on diagnostic tests. The Republican Legislature however amended the law so that if a worker is injured after December 19, 2011, the statute now requires proof that the work injury resulted in “new pathology.”

Atty. Robert J. MacDonald
–June 2007 column (updated April 2012)