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Dawn Atkin

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Posts: 37
Preexisting Conditions and The Allen Test.

Preexisting conditions can be completely unknown until an industrial injury.  The most common is a [JunkpileVertical]degenerative disk disease in the spine that is completely unknown until an MRI is done for the industrial accident.  A preexisting condition does require further evaluation, but it does not mean that workers compensation coverage is not due.

A preexisting condition triggers the need to answer questions about injury.  First, the doctor needs to determine if the preexisting "contributed" to the current industrial medical problems.  If your doctor says the current problems are unrelated to the preexisting condition, then there is no basis for denying your claim. 

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If the preexisting condition made the injured worker prone to the current injury (in other words, it contributed to the current need for medical care) then the Allen Test will apply to determine if workers compensation benefits are owed.  This requires two things:

1.  The treating physician needs to document that the accident at work medically caused or contributed to the current medical condition.  This is called Medical Causation.

2.  When a preexisting condition contributed to the injury, the Allen Test requires a finding that the accident itself involved forces greater than normal, everyday life.  Lifting over 50 lbs, falling, bending and twisting at odd angles, car accidents, and other similar events will meet the "higher standard" of legal causation under the Allen Test.  Because an unknown preexisting condition could be discovered, the injured worker should always describe the events of the accident in great detail.  For example, in a knee injury, "I slipped and fell" is not enough detail.  "My right foot slipped, turning my ankle sideways and causing me to fall to the ground, landing on my right hip with my right leg twisted below me" provides the information needed to properly evaluate the Allen Test.  Most people cannot remember every detail of an accident.  They happen too quickly.  But it is important to report as much detail as possible to the employer, doctors and the insurance adjuster.

Adjusters, unfortunately, rarely evaluate the Allen Test properly.  Often claims are denied just because there was prior medical care on the injured body part.  A denial that does not fully evaluate the Allen Test should be discussed with an attorney ASAP. 

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K. Dawn Atkin
Attorney with Atkin & Associates
(801) 521-2552
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