Trial Notebook : Aggravation of Pre-Existing Condition

Aggravation of Pre-Existing Condition
  • Aggravation of a pre-existing condition which arises out of and in the course of employment is compensable: Only for so long as the aggravation of the pre-existing condition continues to be the cause of the disability; the pre-existing condition shall no longer meet this criteria when the aggravation ceases to be the cause of the disability. Worthington Industries v. Sanks, 228 Ga. App. 782, 1292 S.E. 2d 755 (1997).
  • It is well-established that an employee need not be in perfect health or free from disease at the time he received the injury to recover under the Act; the employer takes his employee as it finds him and assumes the risk of a disease condition aggravated by injury. Colonial Stores v. Hambrick, 176 Ga. App. 544, 336 S.E.2d 617 (1985); Chevrolet-Pontiac-Canada Group, General Motors Corporation v. Millar, 182 Ga. App. 889, 357 S.E.2d 598 (1987).
  • It is settled that the aggravation of a pre-existing infirmity is compensable. Nash v. The Trust Company of Georgia, 131 Ga. App. 684, 206 S.E.2d 566 (1974); West Point Pepperell, Inc. v. Gordon, 163 Ga. App. 837, 357 S.E.2d 598 (1982). "Injury" and "personal injury" under the Act shall include the aggravation of a pre-existing condition of an accident arising out and in the course of employment, but only for so long as the aggravation of the pre-existing condition continues to be the cause of disability. O.C.G.A. ยง 34-9-1(4).
  • It has now been held that there may be a recovery of compensation due to an aggravation of a pre-existing condition. "Compensable Accident" or "accidental injury" have been used repeatedly to encompass the concept of pre-existing condition. Even where the employee has a pre-existing ailment, of which the over exertion or strain caused a flare up and became aggravated, it was properly ruled to have been an accidental injury arising out of and in the course of employment. In this case the ALJ and board found that the claimant's disability arose from the normal aging process and intervening automobile accident and an arthritic condition which affected the claimant's knee, spine and other parts of his body. Therefore, the claim was not compensable. See St. Regis Packaging Corp v. Helm, 172 Ga. App 251, 322 S.E.2d 549 (1984).

Claimant was injured in 1975 and received compensation for three years until it was suspended based upon a change in condition. In 1983 he fell and required surgery, it was a close issue but the doctor felt that the problem was more than likely congenital and the fall did not help an aggravated back. The Board and the Courts held the injury was not compensable. Randall & Lewis Lumber Co. v. Randall, 177 Ga. App. 665, 340 S.E.2d 644 (1986).

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