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Disclosing a Car Accident Related Injury to Your Employer

Burdine & Brown Oct. 26, 2021

If you settled your automobile accident case or your workers’ compensation claim and have some permanent residual medical condition that limits your ability to perform all aspect of a physical job, you must tell your new employer about these limitations when you begin to work.

Let’s say you have had shoulder surgery. In my legal practice in Suwanee, Georgia, I handle many rotator cuff and biceps tear injuries, both as a result of an automobile accident crash or a job injury.

I do expect this injury would leave some permanent impairment such as loss of range of motion, inability to lift and push over 20-25 pounds frequently. So, do you have to inform your new employer of these limitations?

If you do not, and you unfortunately have another injury on your new job, your new employer could easily argue you have committed fraud. This would bar you from filing a new claim even for a brand new, honest to goodness, clear cut injury. Why is this so? The Georgia Court of Appeals has stated that by not telling your new employer of your previous medical condition, your previous injury could increase the extent of your disability and the new employer should not be responsible for this injury at all.

This is another harsh rule. But the easy solution: full disclosure.

Tell your new employer of your restrictions. Tell them that you are not disabled but capable and eager to do good quality work. Just tell them that you have some limitations. Wow them with your positive attitude.

In my law practice in Suwanee, Georgia, I represented a truck driver who drove an 18-wheeler truck for a large pharmaceutical company. He injured his low back while at work. The workers’ compensation insurer would not pay him a dime. They said he had a prior condition to his low back that he clearly failed to disclose on the post-employment questionnaire given to him.

After the litigation began, I, too discovered my client was a veteran and had been seen by the Veterans Hospital in Decatur, Georgia, for low back pain on a number of occasions about a year before his on-the-job injury. This failure to disclose was the “kiss of death”.

The lesson learned: tell the truth even if the truth will hurt you. If you don’t, failure to tell the truth surely will hurt you.