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How will a Pre-existing Injury Affect My Workers Compensation Claim?

workers compensation claim

In cases where a person is injured at work, they are generally covered by WorkCover Queensland. This means they’re able to make a claim for compensation through the government scheme to pay for lost wages and required medical treatment until they’re able to return to work.

But what happens if you aggravate a pre-existing injury while you’re at work? Say you had an old back injury sustained a few years ago while playing football that suddenly flares up when you’re performing a task during your employment and renders you unable to work – can you still make a compensation claim through WorkCover?

Well, it depends…

When you can – and can’t – claim compensation despite a pre-existing injury

There are situations where you’re unable to claim for compensation for a work injury because you aggravated a pre-existing injury. Most commonly this occurs where, in the pre-employment phase, an employer asks you to disclose any pre-existing injuries or medical conditions which could reasonably be expected to be aggravated by performing the duties expected of you in the job. This is particularly the case in jobs that require manual labour, such as building or labouring.

If at this stage you knowingly supply false or misleading information about a pre-existing injury, under the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 you may not be able to lodge a claim for compensation as result of any subsequent work injury that aggravates a pre-existing injury or condition.

In situations where an employer hires you to start work before requiring you to disclose any pre-existing injuries or conditions, then you will still be entitled to claim for compensation.

In every other situation, therefore, as long as you have disclosed a pre-existing injury to your employer, you will be entitled to make a workers’ compensation claim for any injury where work was a significant contributing factor.

This includes injuries that were caused by the negligence of an employer, co-workers or any third parties that you come in contact with through your employment.

After first making a workers’ compensation claim through WorkCover by proving that your job was a significant contributing factor to your injury, or aggravation of a pre-existing injury, you may also then be eligible to make a common law claim. It’s best to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer if you wish to take this course.

Are there any other options if you’re ineligible to make a claim?

If you’re unable to make a claim either through workers’ compensation or at common law because you failed to disclose your pre-existing injury to your employer, you may still be able to rely on income protection payments and/or total and permanent disability cover through your superannuation provider, provided they are part of your account with the fund.

Unlike compensation claims, these types of claims do not require another party to be ‘at fault’ for your injury but may still help you financially through a difficult period where you’re unable to work while you recover.

If you’re unsure about where you stand after aggravating a pre-existing injury at work, get in touch with our expert personal injury lawyers Gold Coast at Lifestyle Injury Lawyers. We can advise you on the best next steps if any of the situations raised above apply to you. Contact us for an initial consultation today through our website, by email at, or by phone at 07 5627 0321.