What are secondary injuries?
For some workers, unfortunately they not only suffer injury at work but also sustain a later injury which was caused as a result of the initial injury. These later injuries are consequential or secondary injuries. Even though these later injuries are not sustained at work, they can still be claimed under workers compensation.
For example, an injured worker may have suffered injury to their right knee. As a result of the weakness in their injured knee, it gives way, causing the injured worker to fall and hurt their back. Another example would be a worker injuring their right shoulder, causing them to favour their left shoulder. As a result, over time, their left shoulder would deteriorate due to overuse. Secondary injuries are also caused by a digestive condition caused by analgesic medication prescribed to treat the workplace injury.
In the case of a consequential injury, unlike for the initial injury where employment needs to be the “substantial contributing factor” or, in the case of a disease, the “main contributing factor”, it only needs to be established that the initial injury materially contributed to the consequential injury. The connection needs to be established between the first and second injury rather than with the workplace. So the secondary need not even have happened at work. It needs to be satisfied that the later injury resulted from the initial injury which occurred at work.
For consequential injuries, they are claimed under the same claim number as the initial injury. The idea is that this subsequent injury would not have occurred if the worker was not already injured.