A workers’ comp lawyer can help you pursue a secondary injury settlement if you suffer health issues as a result of your original injury. For example, if you received workers’ compensation benefits for a torn rotator cuff, and later experienced pinched nerves at the site of your rotator cuff injury, you could pursue a secondary injury settlement.A secondary injury settlement aims to help you return to good health. However, if your injury results in a permanent disability, you can use a secondary injury claim to seek further disability support and job displacement benefits.
What is a Secondary Injury in a Workers’ Comp Claim?
Workers’ compensation lawyer Los Anagels in California exist to provide workers with resources to recover from their injuries. However, some injuries have unforeseen health consequences that don’t appear until later. You can include these secondary injuries in a workers’ compensation claim, but you must prove that your secondary injury occurred as a direct result of your original work-related injury.
How Does a Workers’ Comp Lawyer Help in a Secondary Injury Settlement?
When you suffer an injury at work or while performing work-related activities, you can pursue workers’ comp benefits. A workers’ comp attorney can investigate your secondary injury claim to prove that the secondary injury:
- Is related to your first workers’ compensation injury
- Has caused you further losses
Your lawyer can gather medical records, expert medical testimony, and other evidence to support your claim. If you suffered additional disability or are unable to work because of your secondary injury, your attorney can work to help you secure the full benefits you deserve.
Can Workers’ Comp Cover a Secondary Injury?
Workers’ compensation should cover all types of secondary workplace injuries. For example, a secondary injury settlement could help if you are reinjured while on light duty during your recovery period or if your initial injury seemed fully healed but you acquire another injury.
What Secondary Injuries I Can Claim on Workers’ Compensation?
When seeking a secondary injury settlement, your goal is to prove that the injury stems from your initial work injury, including:
- Side effects and injuries related to surgical procedures used to treat your work-related injury
- Injuries you sustain because of rehabilitative care or physical therapy you undergo to treat your workers’ comp injury
- Psychological effects of your original injury, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress
- Injuries or illness from side effects, allergic reactions, dependency, or overdoses of medications you take for your work injury
- Recurring or repeated injury related to your first workers’ comp injury
What Workers’ Comp Benefits Can I Claim for a Secondary Injury?
California law requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover all work-related injuries. If you suffer a secondary injury related to a completed or ongoing workers’ comp claim, you can seek the same types of compensation, including:
Medical Care Benefits
Workers’ comp benefits in California cover a range of medical expenses, including physician visits, x-rays, hospitalization, physical therapy and restoration, dental care, prescriptions, and any other care that is considered reasonable and necessary for your recovery. If you are injured in the workplace, you must seek medical treatment through the medical provider network (MPN) designated by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. Your employer must arrange medical treatment within 30 days of your secondary injury.
First Aid Treatment Benefits
Employers must provide first aid treatment. Any first aid treatment for workplace injuries (even if administered by a physician) is considered a medical care benefit and should therefore be paid by the employer’s workers’ comp insurance.
Temporary Disability Benefits
If your secondary injuries prevent you from returning to work within three days, you can file for temporary disability benefits through workers’ compensation. A doctor’s confirmation that you can’t return to work (at least temporarily) is required to be eligible.Temporary disability benefits last until you can safely return to work or until you reach the statutory limit for your injury type. Temporary disability provides a portion of your lost income up to the legal maximum.
Permanent Disability Benefits
Secondary injuries can cause permanent disability, even for employees who were previously recovering. An appointed physician or medical evaluator will assess your permanent impairment and limitations to determine how much your benefit will be. Factors that affect your permanent disability benefit include:
- The extent of your secondary injury
- How much of the injury can be attributed to work
- How old you were when you sustained the secondary injury
- The date the secondary injury occurred
- Your lost future earning capacity
A formula established by the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) uses the above metrics and specialized formulas to determine the percentage of your income you can receive for permanent disability.
Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits
If you cannot return to your previous work after a secondary workplace injury, you can apply for a supplemental job displacement benefit (SJDB). The SJDB is a voucher program that allows you to pursue career retraining or skill enhancement at a state-approved or accredited learning institution to establish a new career when a permanent disability prevents you from returning to your previous position. To qualify for SJDB for secondary injuries that occurred after January 1, 2013, you must prove that your injuries caused permanent disability and that you were not offered regular, modified, or alternative employment options by your employer.
Contact a Workers’ Comp Lawyer For Help With a Secondary Injury Settlement
If you suffered a secondary injury following a prior workers’ comp claim, an attorney at KJT Law Group can help you pursue a secondary injury settlement. Since 2014, our team has actively defended workers’ rights across the greater Los Angeles area. We can help you navigate the workers’ compensation process for secondary injuries and fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact our office online or call us at (818) 507-8525 to schedule a free case evaluation for your secondary workers’ comp injury claim.