How Comorbidities Impact Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

When an employee becomes injured at work, they will file a Workers’ Compensation claim and collect financial benefits based on the nature of the injury. However, if the employee suffers from a range of other conditions, or comorbidities, the claims process can become increasingly complex, even if the health condition is not directly included in the claim. If you were injured at work, and you suffer from other comorbidities, an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer can walk you through the claims process and ensure that you receive the benefits you deserve.Americans are living longer than they did 20 years ago. However, there are also more people who have comorbid conditions, including the following:Approximately one-third of American adults have high blood pressureOver 30 million Americans have diabetesClose to 40 percent of adults in the United States are obeseDepression is the leading cause of disability for people between the ages of 15 and 44Over 6.5 percent of American adults show symptoms of depression, which can become worse when work-related injuries cause an individual to miss work for an extended periodAll these factors have a significant impact on Workers’ Compensation claims. A 2016 Harbor Health study found that claims involving comorbidities had a 76 percent increase in the duration of the claim, as well as a 341 percent increase in costs. The number of temporary total disability days increased by 285 percent.Steps to Improve OutcomesEmployers can take the following steps to improve claim outcomes for injured workers with comorbidities:Promote healthy habits by encouraging employees to participate in employee wellness programs that target specific conditions.Encourage workers to manage their existing conditions.Screen injured employees for existing conditions. The health care professional who examines the injured worker should ask about any pre-existing conditions so that they can take steps to control the comorbidity early in the claims process.Make sure that the case manager is skilled at identifying conditions that can have an impact on the worker’s recovery. In many cases, the worker may not even realize that they have a condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. In fact, approximately 7.2 million people in the United States have undiagnosed diabetes. By uncovering these existing conditions, employers may avoid paying medical costs that are not related to the work injury.Taking the above steps can make a big difference in making the claims process less complicated. Employers can help workers improve their health by focusing on their overall wellness. This will help speed up recovery and help the worker return to work as soon as possible.

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Bryan J Chant, Esq.

Licensed since 2013

Member at firm LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, P.A.

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