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This is not an uncommon situation. Many injured workers have existing claims and then something else happens in the midst of that claim, such as a slip and fall, motor vehicle accident, further injury while working, etc.
The first question that will typically be asked of you is whether the motor vehicle accident caused an injury to the same body parts that are part of your workers’ compensation claim. If they are completely unrelated, then there should be no impact to your existing claim. What is related or unrelated is a matter for a physician to address. They are the only ones who are technically qualified to make that determination. For instance, you had an existing low back claim and you hurt your neck in the injury. More than likely this will have no bearing on your lower back. However, let’s just say that you had low back injury and then you had a knee injury. It is very possible that the new knee injury may have an impact on your back disability making that condition worse because you are walking differently to compensate for your knee, creating additional pain to your back. Again, this is something that a doctor would have to determine.
If you have a subsequent injury to the same exact body parts, i.e., neck, back, etc., then a doctor would need to make the determination regarding the percentage of disability to the industrial injury and the percentage of disability to the subsequent motor vehicle accident. This is called apportionment. If you have a subsequent accident, such as a motor vehicle accident that is completely non-industrial (meaning not work-related), then you may have other rights to secure some type of compensation for that injury. However, that is likely a completely different issue from workers’ compensation and would fall under a personal injury claim. There is no direct answer to this question. Sometimes, a subsequent injury may have no impact, and sometimes it can. The facts of every case are unique, and it is important to discuss them with legal counsel.
If you have questions about treatment for your workers' compensation injury and want to talk to an attorney in Fresno, please call 559-408-7436 or fill out the form to the right.