Workers’ comp seems fairly simple: You are injured on the job and you receive benefits for medical care. But what if you aggravate an old injury at work rather than get a new injury? Can you still receive workers’ comp in cases where you have a pre-existing injury?

Preexisting injuries are one of the main reasons that insurers deny workers’ compensation claims. Typically, the insurer will claim that the injury either occurred outside or work or happened before the claimant took the job. So, if you had a history of back pain after an old sports injury, would you be able to get workers’ comp if your job at a grocery store aggravated the old injury? The answer is: It depends.

Let’s say your old back injury flared up after several long shifts that involved restocking and heavy lifting. Your employer would likely claim that you knew the job involved lifting and you took the job. Plus, you knew you had a prior back condition. So why should they pay for your care?

If you anticipate pushback when filing for workers’ compensation, see a doctor who can evaluate your injuries. If the doctor finds evidence that your back pain has spread to other parts of the body or that your range of motion has decreased beyond what it was previously, your claim has a higher chance of succeeding. But you still face an uphill battle. If you want to file for workers’ compensation and have the best odds of getting your claim approved quickly, you need an attorney who can aggressively represent you.

Why you need a workers’ compensation lawyer

Insurance companies are strong entities who have large staffs invested in protecting their interests, especially when they believe they can deny a claim due to pre-existing condition. As an individual, you cannot go up against the insurers on your own and expect to win your claim. To succeed, you need to hire a California attorney who understands how to gather and demonstrate evidence to support your claim.

A workers’ compensation attorney can coach you through the claims process, help you gather paperwork, and work tirelessly to prove that your pre-existing injury was aggravated on the job. If you tried applying for workers’ comp previously and had your claim denied, an attorney can take the case on appeal and use the appeals process to obtain the benefits you deserve.