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Fort Lauderdale Workers' Compensation Lawyer > Blog > Workers' Compensation > The Burden of Proof Is on Your Employer If They Deny That Your Injuries Are Work-Related

The Burden of Proof Is on Your Employer If They Deny That Your Injuries Are Work-Related


In legal terms, a “presumption” is when the court assumes that something is true until a party in a legal case presents strong evidence that it is not.  For example, in criminal cases, defendants have the presumption of innocence.  That means that it is the prosecution’s duty to prove that the defendant committed the crime that they are alleging; if they do not do this successfully, the court rules in favor of the defendant.  In personal injury cases, the presumption is that the plaintiff’s injuries are not the result of the defendant’s negligence.  The plaintiff has the responsibility of demonstrating, through evidence, that the defendant’s actions amounted to negligence, or else the court will not award damages to the injured plaintiff.  In worker’s compensation cases, however, the court presumes that the claimant’s injuries are work-related.  If the employer claims that the injuries are not work-related, the burden of proof is on the employer.  If your employer is trying to get out of paying for your treatment by claiming that your injuries or symptoms are not work-related, contact a South Florida workers’ compensation lawyer.

Is It a Work Injury When a Work Injury Triggers a Pre-Existing Condition?

Workers’ compensation insurance should pay for the treatment of your injuries and illnesses that result from incidents at work.  Things get more complicated if you have a pre-existing condition, such as an old injury, a chronic illness, or even a health condition you have had since birth (the medical term for these is congenital conditions).  You can still get workers’ comp to cover your treatment if the work injury “triggered” your condition, meaning that you were asymptomatic for a long time before the work accident, but your symptoms started acting up after the incident at work.  An example of a workers’ compensation dispute about a work injury triggering a chronic health condition involves a woman named Thomasena who worked for Miami-Dade County.  She has SVT, a congenital condition that causes an abnormally fast heart rate, chest pain, dizziness, and shortness of breath.

When Thomasena filed a workers’ compensation claim, the insurance company presumed that her symptoms were work-related.  Two workers’ compensation doctors then argued that her symptoms were because of her pre-existing condition.  According to the appeals court that ruled on this case, the court should have made findings by allowing each party to tell their side.  In other words, the presumption that an injury is work-related disappears when one party presents evidence to the contrary; after that, the court must make findings before deciding the matter.  (The ruling referred to this as a “bursting bubble” presumption.)  In Thomasena’s case, the appeals court ruled that the Judge of Compensation Claims had ruled in her favor without making findings about whether the triggering of her SVT was work-related; therefore, it remanded the case to the Judge of Compensation Claims.

Let Us Help You Today

Almost everyone has pre-existing conditions of some kind; a Sunrise workers’ compensation lawyer can help you if your employer is using your pre-existing conditions as an excuse not to pay for your treatment.  Contact the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld for help.


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