Workers Compensation Claims and Pre-Existing Conditions

If you have a pre-existing condition and you suffer a workplace injury, can you still make a workers’ compensation claim? Let’s explore this in more detail.

What is a pre-existing condition?

A pre-existing condition for the purposes of workers’ compensation claims is usually defined in each state’s legislation. Section 571A of the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (QLD) covers this law in Queensland.

Under this legislation, a pre-existing condition is one that’s present during or prior to applying for a job. It also must be a condition that you would reasonably expect to be aggravated by the job. For example, if you have an existing neck injury and the job you’re applying for involves frequent heavy lifting, this would be considered a pre-existing condition.

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What are the consequences when a pre-existing condition is present?

If you have a pre-existing condition that you don’t disclose to your potential employer, it can make you ineligible for a workers’ compensation claim. In fact, even if you do disclose your condition during the recruitment process, you may still be ineligible for a claim.

Many insurers simply dismiss claims if there is a pre-existing condition, but this can often be challenged. If you can show that your employment significantly contributed to your condition being aggravated, accelerated or exacerbated, you may still be able to make a claim.

If your workers’ compensation claim is refused and you feel you have a valid claim, you may want to speak to an accredited specialist personal injuries lawyer.

Can pre-existing injuries affect workers’ compensation claims?

A pre-existing injury can affect workers’ compensation claims, but each situation differs. As we mentioned, insurers may instantly deny a claim if you have a pre-existing condition, but there are ways to address this with the help of a workers’ compensation lawyer.

While you’re not legally obligated to provide a potential employer with your medical history, failure to notify them of a pre-existing injury that could affect your capacity to perform the job may result in a denial of your claim.

So, does a pre-existing injury preclude you from claiming? Not at all, however, it may make your claim more complicated, and the amount of compensation may be limited.

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When can you make a workers’ compensation claim with a pre-existing condition?

You’re entitled to make a claim whenever you suffer an injury at work. You can always make a claim whether you’re physically injured by another employee or an existing mental health condition is exacerbated by your work. How successful your claim is depends on several factors, though. If you’ve informed your employer of your injury before commencing work, you’ll have a greater chance of a successful work injury claim. Also, if you’ve kept clear medical records regarding the nature of your condition and treatment, this is also helpful.

Even if you haven’t disclosed your injury, you can still make a claim, but it may be more complicated. You need to be able to prove that you’ve suffered a recurrence, aggravation, deterioration, acceleration or exacerbation of your injury as a result of work.

Tips to maximise your chances of a successful claim

You can do a few things to improve your chances of a successful pre-existing injury workers’ compensation claim.

Disclose your injury

When applying for a job, disclose any pre-existing condition that you feel may be exacerbated by the job in question. The same applies if you suffer an injury while employed but not while working. For example, you hurt your back surfing on the weekend. This isn’t a compensable WorkCover claim, but it’s wise to let your employer know if that injury could affect your work.

Keep medical records

In the case of any workplace injury, you should always keep excellent records. This may include doctors’ reports, personal diary notes regarding pain levels, or anything relevant to your injury. You also need to ensure your doctor is keeping WorkCover medical certificates on your behalf.

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Seek legal advice

Workers’ compensation claims can be complex at the best of times. Especially when you need to ask, ‘are pre-existing conditions covered?’. A pre-existing condition complicates most Workcover claims, so discussing your claim with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer is a good idea.


To sum up, a pre-existing injury doesn’t always preclude you from making a workers’ compensation claim, but it can make claims more difficult, or your compensation amount may be reduced. Contact Rogalski Lawyers today to ensure you get all you’re entitled to. As specialist work injury lawyers, we’re here to help, whether you’re in Stones Corner, Coorparoo, Greenslopes or anywhere else in Queensland.

Call 1300 848 424

Date Posted: September 19, 2023