Was There an Actual Injury?
An injury in Louisiana workers compensation cases is defined as a personal injury by accident arising out of in the course of employment.
Injury Is Presumed to be Work-Related
In workers compensation cases, a disability is presumed to be the result of a work-related accident if, before the accident, the injured person was in good health, but beginning with the accident the symptoms of the disability appear and continue.
But there should be medical evidence to show a reasonable possibility of a causal connection between the accident and the disability, or that the nature of the accident, when combined with other facts of the situation, appears to show a causal connection. The phrase causal connection means simply that one thing caused another thing.
Moreover, the fact that an employee does not realize or diagnose the full extent of his or her injury immediately after an accident should not prevent hat employee from making a recovery under Louisiana workers compensation.
What About Pre-existing Conditions In A Workers Compensation Claim?
Pre-existing conditions or disease or infirmity of an employee do not prevent a workers compensation claim if the work-related injury aggravated, accelerated, or combined with the disease or infirmity to produce the disability for which compensation is claimed.
When an employee proves that before the accident he or she had not shown any disabling symptoms, but that beginning with the accident the disabling symptoms appeared, and there is either medical or circumstantial evidence indicating a reasonable possibility of a causal connection between the accident and the disabling condition, then the employee's work injury is presumed to have been aggravated, accelerated, or combined with his pre-existing disease or infirmity to produce his disability.
So again, it does not matter for an employee's workers compensation claim whether he or she had a pre-existing condition, so long as the accident aggravated the condition. The employer must take the employee as he finds him or her. It the employee is frail or accident prone or has a pre-existing condition, that is the employer's problem, not the problem of the employee.
Appearance of Objective Symptoms
In order for an employee to have a workers compensation claim, the employee must have suffered an injury that was brought about by work-related conditions. However, the employee will often show some outward sign of hurt or symptoms related to the accident, in order to show that he or she was injured on the job.
The Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act, which defines an “accident,” states that it must be an event “producing at the time objective symptoms of an injury which is more than simply a gradual deterioration or progressive degeneration.” The workers compensation insurance companies often use this to cast doubt upon whether there was an injury.
Symptoms Do Not Need to Appear Immediately
However, despite this language, Louisiana courts have not required an immediate appearance of symptoms.
This is because very often, the outward sign of hurt at the time of the accident fails to indicate the full extent of the damage suffered by the employee. For example, hernias and many other types of injuries are slow to give outward evidence of the full damage. Nevertheless, compensation for these ailments is routinely granted if the other requirements were met.
Louisiana does however simply require that an injury which is suffered must be “more than simply a gradual deterioration or progressive degeneration.”
So once again, it does not matter for an employee's workers compensation claim whether he or she had a pre-existing condition, so long as the accident aggravated the employee's condition.