I threw my back out at work but I had a pre-existing back injury – will this impact my ability to make a claim?

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If you are injured at work, you are usually entitled to make a statutory claim (workers compensation) through WorkCover Queensland.

The main grounds you need to satisfy are that you were in fact a “worker” and that your work was a significant contributing factor to your injury. If you threw your back out while carrying out your duties at work then you will usually satisfy these criteria, and a WorkCover claim should be filed if your ongoing ability to work has been impacted. However, in limited circumstances, having a pre-existing injury may impact your ability to claim for compensation or damages, particularly where your current symptoms are an aggravation of your pre-existing injury.

Before you commenced employment, particularly in laborious and physically demanding jobs, you may have been requested to disclose all pre-existing injuries or medical conditions to your prospective employer that could reasonably be expected to be aggravated by performing the employment related duties. If you knowingly supply false or misleading information at this time, then you will not be entitled to compensation or damages under the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (the Act), for any accident that aggravates the non-disclosed pre-existing injury or condition.

If your prospective employer hired you before requiring the disclosure of your pre-existing back injury (or any other relevant injury or condition), then you will still be entitled to claim for compensation.

Aside from the situation where you failed to disclose your pre-existing back injury, you will be entitled to make a workers’ compensation claim for any injury where work was a significant contributing factor, including injuries that were caused by the negligence of an employer, co-workers or any third parties that you deal with. This includes aggravation of a pre-existing back injury. Only after first making a statutory claim (through workers compensation), will you then be eligible to make a common law claim. You can find out more information on this process here.

If you are ineligible to lodge a statutory claim or common law claim because you did not disclose your pre-existing injuries, then you do still have options including Income Protection payments through your superannuation provider. Or, if the injury has developed into a disability that will prevent you from working ever again, you could consider making a Total and Permanent Disability Claim, again through your superannuation provider. Both of these types of claims do not require another party to be “at fault” for the injury, but can still provide you with the financial assistance you need to manage and overcome the difficulty of suffering from illness or injury.

If you have had a workplace accident and would like advice on lodging your WorkCover statutory compensation claim or common law claim, or you are unsure about your eligibility where you have a pre-existing back injury, contact our offices for a free consultation with one of our Brisbane personal injury lawyers on (07) 3252 0011, or through our general enquiries page.