According to recent statistics, roughly 4.9 million workers’ compensation claims are filed by both private and federal employees each year for injuries sustained in the workplace. While some injuries clearly tie back to the job, others stem from more personal factors, presenting a unique set of challenges. These are what we call “idiopathic” injuries.
These injuries arise from a worker’s underlying or hidden physical condition, often making it difficult to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
In this blog post, a Florida workers’ compensation attorney from Lyle B. Masnikoff & Associates discusses what idiopathic injuries are and how they can impact your Florida workers’ compensation claim.
If you need help with a claim or have questions about a workplace injury, call us at (866) 519-3831 or complete our online form to schedule your FREE consultation.
Understanding Idiopathic Injuries
An idiopathic injury is an injury from an unknown cause that arises spontaneously. It is not caused by any conditions related to the person’s place of work or job duties. Idiopathic injuries can be challenging to prove in workers’ compensation claims, as there is no identifiable cause for the injury.
Navigating Workers’ Compensation in Florida
In Florida, workers’ compensation law provides for the injured worker, but not all injuries are covered. To be eligible, the injury must have occurred while on the job and be directly linked to your work.
Idiopathic injuries, though occurring at work, might not fall into this category because they aren’t caused by the job.
Common Idiopathic Conditions: Are You At Risk?
Here are a few examples of conditions that might be considered idiopathic:
- Seizures. People with epilepsy or other conditions that cause seizures may experience these events unpredictably. A seizure could lead to a fall or other injury at work, but the root cause is the individual’s medical condition, not a workplace hazard.
- Heart Conditions. Sudden cardiac events, such as heart attacks, can be considered idiopathic if they aren’t directly caused by job stress or exertion. Similarly, if an employee with a known heart condition suffers an event at work, this could be considered idiopathic.
- Fainting or Dizziness. Conditions that cause sudden fainting or dizziness can lead to workplace injuries. For example, if an employee faints and falls, injuring themselves, the fainting spell would be an idiopathic condition.
- Musculoskeletal Conditions. Certain musculoskeletal conditions may also be considered idiopathic. For example, a person with a previously undiagnosed weakness in a bone or joint might experience a sudden fracture or dislocation without a clear external cause.
- Diabetic Events. Employees who are managing diabetes may experience sudden drops or spikes in blood sugar levels that can lead to dizziness, fainting, or seizures. These can be idiopathic incidents if not directly caused by the work environment.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim: Is Your Idiopathic Injury Covered?
In Florida, employees who sustain an idiopathic injury can still file a workers’ compensation claim if the injury was aggravated or accelerated due to work-related activities. Here are some examples:
- Slip and Fall Due to Seizure: An employee with epilepsy experiences a seizure while on a ladder at work and falls, causing injury. While the seizure may be idiopathic, the fall and resulting injury were related to the work environment and activities, so the injury might be covered.
- Injury During Diabetic Event: A diabetic employee experiences a drop in blood sugar, causing them to faint. In the process, they hit their head on a machine, causing a severe head injury. The injury from the fall could be eligible for workers’ compensation, even though the fainting spell was due to a personal health condition.
- Injury Exacerbated by Work: An employee with a pre-existing back condition injures their back further while lifting heavy equipment at work. Even though the initial back condition is idiopathic, the worsening of the injury due to work activities could make the case eligible for workers’ compensation.
- Cardiac Event in High-Stress Situation: An employee with a known heart condition experiences a heart attack during a particularly stressful work meeting. The argument could be made that the stressful conditions at work contributed to or triggered the heart attack, thus making the injury eligible for compensation.
However, it is important to note that the employee must prove that their injuries were caused or worsened by work-related activities. To read more about how to file a claim, read our blog here.
Proving Your Case: How Work-Related Activities Affect Your Idiopathic Injury
Proving that an idiopathic injury was caused or worsened by work-related activities can be challenging but not impossible. You must provide sufficient evidence that your work-related activities aggravated or accelerated your condition.
Here’s what you must do to ensure the best possible outcome in your workers’ compensation claim.
Provide a clear timeline of events
The first step to proving an idiopathic injury is to provide a clear timeline of events leading up to the injury. This includes any activities or actions you performed before the injury and any symptoms you experienced leading up to the injury.
It is important to document this information as soon as possible and to be as detailed as possible.
Gather medical evidence
Medical evidence is critical when it comes to proving an idiopathic injury. You should seek medical attention as soon as possible after your injury occurs and ensure your doctor documents all of your symptoms and any potential causes of the injury.
You may also want to gather medical records prior to the injury to show a lack of pre-existing conditions that could have been a factor in the injury.
Provide credible witness statements
If there were witnesses to the injury or the events leading up to it, their statements could be valuable in proving an idiopathic injury. This includes coworkers, managers, and anyone else who may have seen or heard anything related to the injury.
Be sure to gather statements as soon as possible and make sure they are credible witnesses who have no vested interest in the outcome of the case.
Consult with an attorney
Proving an idiopathic injury can be difficult, so we recommend you consult with an attorney experienced in workers’ compensation cases.
An attorney can help you navigate the process and provide guidance on what evidence is needed to prove your claim. They can also represent you in court if necessary.
Provide other evidence
In addition to the above steps, other evidence may help prove an idiopathic injury. This could include video footage of the injury occurring, safety reports, or any other documentation related to the injury. Gather as much information as possible and present it to your attorney to determine its relevance to your case.
Compensation for Idiopathic Injuries: What You Can Expect
If you prove that work-related activities caused or worsened your idiopathic injury, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits can include payment for medical expenses, lost wages, and disability benefits.
The compensation you receive will depend on the severity of your injuries and the extent of your disability. You can read about benefits in more detail in a blog we wrote here.
While sustaining an idiopathic injury can be complicated, it is important to remember that even if you have a pre-existing medical condition, you are still entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if your injuries were caused or worsened by work-related activities.
Finally, if your workers’ compensation claim is denied under the ‘idiopathic’ defense, it doesn’t mean you should give up on your case. Quite often, it’s possible to contest this denial and successfully secure your claim. Remember, you don’t have to go through the process alone – reach out to a trusted workers’ compensation attorney for guidance and support.
Ready for the Next Step? Schedule Your FREE Consultation Today
If you’ve suffered an injury while at work, it can be frustrating if the workers’ compensation insurance company labels your condition as idiopathic. This could pose a challenge in securing a successful claim. However, it’s not an insurmountable hurdle if you have an experienced legal team at your side.
You have the right to fair compensation and support for your recovery if you have a valid workers’ compensation claim. Whether you’re dealing with a workers’ comp denial or need help initiating your case, we’re here to help. Let the dedicated Florida workers’ compensation attorneys from Lyle B. Masnikoff & Associates go the extra mile for you.
Contact our office today at (866) 519-3831 for a FREE consultation and take the first step towards securing your workers’ comp benefits. If more convenient, you can also fill out our online form here.
Copyright © 2023. Lyle B. Masnikoff & Associates, P.A. All rights reserved.
The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.