What Are Intervening Injuries in Workers’ Compensation?

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Sometimes when a work injury occurs, another incident may occur afterward that complicates the situation. If that incident in some way breaks the causal chain between your work accident and your current symptoms, then it may be considered to be an intervening injury. Intervening injuries can make it difficult to receive benefits from workers’ compensation.

Intervening Injury Definition

An intervening injury or accident occurs after whatever event prompted your workers’ compensation claim. These incidents are independent of your initial work accident.

For instance, if you hurt your leg at work in a slip and fall accident, then a month later are involved in a vehicle accident that exacerbates your leg injury, the car accident could be considered an intervening injury.

How an Intervening Injury Could Affect a Workers’ Comp Claim

While an intervening injury is technically independent of a work accident, it could complicate matters when it comes to recovering workers’ compensation benefits.

An Intervening Car Accident

Going back to our leg injury example, if you were still receiving benefits for your leg injury and needed additional time off/medical treatment due to the car accident, the car accident would likely be considered an intervening cause of your current injury. As such, you may not be able to get that injury covered by workers’ compensation.

Self-Treatment

Let’s look at a more nuanced real-world example. In 2016, a man developed a blister from driving for work. When he attempted to treat it himself, it caused severe infection, requiring medical attention. The employer argued that while his blister certainly resulted from work, his self-treatment was an intervening cause, barring him from receiving benefits.

The Illinois Appellate Court eventually ruled that since his self-treatment would not have occurred if he hadn’t had the blister in the first place, he should still receive benefits. However, this was only after the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) had agreed with the employer, delaying benefits.

Muddled Evidence

An intervening incident could muddle the evidence. It may be harder to prove that a work accident caused your injury if another accident caused similar symptoms. The end result is greater difficulty receiving benefits since it’s harder to prove the causal relationship between your work accident and your current injury.

Overcoming Intervening Injury Arguments

An intervening injury could be grounds for denying workers’ compensation benefits. As such, it’s important to be able to prove that your injuries are work-related in spite of any other events that have occurred in the meantime.

For best results, do the following in any instance where you’re injured at work:

  • Report your injury promptly. Delays could diminish your chances of receiving benefits.
  • Get medical treatment immediately, even if your injury seems minor.
  • Describe to your doctor exactly what happened to cause your injury.
  • Get eyewitness accounts about your workplace accident if possible.
  • Take photographic evidence if possible.
  • Talk to a competent workers’ compensation attorney.

In scenarios where your claim could be called into question due to intervening incidents, you will need solid legal representation. For the help you need in such a situation, contact Hart David Carson LLP today.

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