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How the NC Workers’ Compensation Act Addresses Idiopathic Medical Conditions

Dec 6, 2016 Brown Moore Workers' Compensation

An idiopathic medical condition is defined as any condition that occurs without an apparent cause or from an obscure or spontaneous cause. It can also be a condition that is uncommon or unique to the person who has it. So, how does the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act address idiopathic conditions? This is a particularly difficult area of North Carolina workers’ compensation claims, along with the concern of pre-existing conditions, and it is wise to seek the guidance of an attorney with experience handling workers’ compensation claims that involve pre-existing conditions and idiopathic conditions to ensure that you take all of the necessary steps towards receiving fair compensation. To begin with, however, it helps to have all of the information concerning these often complex cases.

Examples of Idiopathic Medical Conditions in the Workplace

An idiopathic medical condition, by definition, can be very difficult to trace back to the duties that you perform in your place of employment. They are often spontaneous and related to your physical or mental wellness. Some examples include seizures, diabetes, or heart conditions. Having a bad knee or arthritis could also be idiopathic conditions. When it comes to mental health, you might have depression or anxiety attacks that are considered to be idiopathic or pre-existing conditions. There are many more examples, though, at this point, we want to look at how such conditions can be compensated, if they can be, based on their unique nature and the nature of your employment.

Seeking Workers’ Comp for an Injury at Work Associated with Idiopathic Medical Conditions. If you are considering filing a North Carolina workers’ compensation claim for an injury at work that is associated with a pre-existing condition or an idiopathic medical condition, then you need to be aware of how these conditions are viewed and evaluated in the eyes of the law.

To begin with, your injury will be considered based on whether or not your work related duties had any relevance in the condition. For example, if you had a seizure because you have epilepsy, and this has absolutely nothing to do with your place of employment or work related duties, then you are unlikely to receive compensation for any injuries that occurred from the seizure.

On the other hand, if your seizure was triggered by something in your work environment or if your injury is associated, in any way, with that environment, then you may be able to seek compensation for the associated injuries. In such a situation, the idiopathic medical condition would combine with any risks associated with employment, making both issues together with the actual cause of injury.

Another example would be if you were driving for your employer, when you suddenly suffered a heart attack, ultimately resulting in an accident. The risks of driving, in this case, would be associated with your employment. The heart attack itself would be the idiopathic condition that is not related to your employment. The two, combined, caused your injuries, and you may be able to seek workers’ compensation benefits for the associated damage. Even so, you may find yourself facing an uphill battle in such a situation, and would benefit from the guidance of an attorney.

Questions to Answer Concerning Your Workers’ Comp Claim with Idiopathic Medical Condition. If you suffer from an idiopathic condition that produces an injury in the course of your employment activities, then there are a few different questions to answer about the condition and the injuries to determine whether or not you can successfully pursue a workers’ compensation claim.

The first question that you will need to address is whether or not your injury occurred through an accident or through a deviation from your usual work related tasks. If so, then you can move to the next question of where the accidental injury occurred and if it was contributed to by any employment- associated risks.

If the answers to these threshold questions are favorable from the perspective of establishing a workers’ compensation claim, then you can continue to the question of whether or not the cause of your workplace accident was identifiable or not. If you can identify the cause of the accident, then you stand a better chance of receiving compensation. The next question is whether or not the cause of the accident if known, is entirely due to the idiopathic medical condition and unrelated to workplace risks. If this is the case, then you will likely not be able to receive compensation.

However, if the injury was not entirely caused by your idiopathic condition, and if it is in some way associated with the risks of your employment, then even if the injury was caused by a combination of the two, you should still be entitled to seek compensation. Ultimately, the best thing that you can do to ensure that you do have a right to seek workers’ compensation after a work related injury involving an idiopathic medical condition is to seek a free consultation with a skilled North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney. Contact Brown Moore & Associates to schedule your free consultation today.