Intervening Injuries and Your VA Benefits Claim
When filing a claim for VA benefits, the end goal is to establish service connection. To establish that a disability is service connected, a claimant must show that the condition or conditions claimed must have been caused or aggravated by the Veteran's time in service. Additionally, the Veteran must be currently diagnosed with that condition or disability and be able to show that the current diagnosis is directly related to the injury sustained while the Veteran was still in service. Establishing service connection can be a difficult process, especially when there is an intervening injury.
An intervening injury is an injury that occurs between the time when a Veteran was in service and the present. The intervening injury becomes an issue when it occurs in a similar area or fashion as the injury for which the Veteran is trying to show is service connected. However, even if a Veteran has sustained an intervening injury, this does not automatically defeat the Veteran's claim. An intervening injury only defeats a claim if the symptoms of the intervening injury and the service connected injury can be distinguished from one another.
The Board of Veterans Appeals has held that an entire disability is to be treated as if caused by service connected conditions when it is not possible to distinguish a disability caused by service connected conditions from those caused by non-service connected conditions. This provides a Veteran with the benefit of the doubt. In cases where the symptoms of a service connected condition and a non-service connected condition are indistinguishable, the entire condition is judged to be caused by the service connected condition.
If you are wondering if an out of service injury can affect your VA claim, ask an experienced VA attorney who can give you the answer. For any question involving VA claims or Social Security claims contact the experienced disability attorneys at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. today for a free case evaluation. Gardberg & Kemmerly serves veterans across the Gulf Coast, including, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi.