In Alabama, an aggravation of a preexisting condition can be treated as a new injury if the claimant was working without restriction prior to the accident date or date of last exposure to cumulative trauma. This is similar to the law in Iowa. Recently, an Iowa workers’ compensation matter (McQuown v. Brecht Trucking, Inc.) was initially decided in favor of the employer based, in large part, on medical testimony distinguishing between aggravation and symptoms. According to the testifying doctor, an aggravation means that an underlying situation was made to be medically worse, which is different than merely experiencing symptoms of a preexisting condition while performing work duties.

Iowa Workers' Compensation cases can go through several levels of appeal. The above case was first tried before a Deputy Workers Compensation Commissioner who issued an arbitration decision in favor of the employer. The case was then appealed to the Iowa Workers Compensation Commissioner which reversed the arbitration decision. The employer now has the option of appealing the matter to the Iowa District Court.

My Two Cents: 

Although this is an Iowa case, it is a must read for anyone that handles Alabama workers’ compensation matters. It presents an interesting argument which employers and treating physicians should consider when presented with an aggravation claim.

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About the Author  

This article was written by Michael I. Fish, Esq. of Fish Nelson LLC, a law firm dedicated to representing employers, self-insured employers and insurance carriers in workers’ compensation matters. Fish Nelson is a member of The National Workers’ Compensation Network (NWCDN). If you have any questions about this article or Alabama workers’ compensation issues in general, please feel free to contact the author at mfish@fishnelson.com or any firm member at 205-332-3430.