The Connecticut workers’ compensation system is intended to cover all on-the-job injuries, whether or not the injury was related to a pre-existing condition or not. Employers in Connecticut must take a worker as he or she is, in whatever physical condition, with whatever disability or susceptibility he or she has to injury, while employed.
As an example of this principle, a worker who developed a hernia in a prior position or while outside of work is eligible for
Connecticut workers’ compensation benefits if, while lifting a heavy object at work, the hernia bursts, causing injury or even death. Despite the hernia developing outside of work, the activity that resulted in further injury (the rupture of the hernia) occurred while the employee was working and so should be covered by the Connecticut workers’ compensation system. According to the Connecticut Supreme Court, in the 1916 case of
Hartz v. Hartford Faience Co., workers’ compensation coverage was not limited by a pre-existing condition then and is still not today.
The Connecticut Second Injury Fund
From 1945 to 1999, the second injury fund limited an employer’s responsibility for injuries suffered by an employee who was first injured or disabled while working for another company. The intent behind the fund was to encourage employers who otherwise might not hire someone with a pre-existing disability by limiting the employer to 104 weeks of workers’ compensation coverage should the employee be involved in another accident, this time resulting in permanent disability.
In the face of budget issues and over-extension of liability for the second injury fund, the Connecticut legislature stopped the claims from being transferred to the fund for payment. Believing that anti-discrimination laws now adequately protected individuals with disabilities from being passed over for jobs, the fund had outlived its purpose of promoting employment for handicapped individuals. Whether or not anti-discrimination laws truly protect individuals with disabilities in the job market is a topic for a separate article.
Pre-existing Occupational Diseases May Affect The Amount Of Benefits Received
Despite the principle that an employer takes an employee in whatever condition he or she is hired in, the existence of an occupational disease may limit subsequent payments under the Connecticut workers’ compensation system. As related to occupational diseases, workers’ compensation benefits from a subsequent employer are allowed only for the aggravation of the disease, rather than the mere existence of the disease itself. The financial responsibility for an occupational disease or an injury considered due to repetitive use may be apportioned among prior employers, according to the
Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Act.
A workers’ compensation attorney in your area can further explain the law related to pre-existing conditions in your state’s work comp system. If you’ve been denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition, or been told that a pre-existing condition has made you ineligible for work comp benefits, an experienced benefits lawyer can help you fight for the compensation you deserve.