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Workers' Compensation

Washington: Reopening of Claim Allowed Since Employee Suffered Aggravation of Old Injury, Not New One

A Washington appellate court affirmed a decision that allowed the reopening of an employee’s workers’ compensation claim for a knee injury he suffered while working for his previous employer. The appellate court held that on the record presented, a reasonable jury could only conclude that the work the employee did for the first employer was a cause of the worsening of his knee condition and that the work he did later for a later Arizona employer was not an independent superseding cause. The court held the test “is whether the activity which caused the aggravation is something that the claimant might reasonably be expected to be doing, or whether it is something that one with his disability would not reasonably be expected to be doing.” [McDougle v. Department of Labor & Industries, 64 Wn.2d 640, 393 P.2d 631, 645 (1964), citing Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 13.11]. The court said the record supplied no more reason to believe that the employee unreasonably endangered his knee by operating heavy equipment in Arizona than to believe that he unreasonably endangered his knee by the consecutive walking he did as a walking foreman for the Washington employer after his 2008 surgery. Both jobs were physically demanding. It was reasonably to be expected that after leaving the Washington employer, the employee would continue to work in the same general field.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is a leading commentator and expert on the law of workers’ compensation.

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to

See Pilchuck Contractors, Inc. v. Berka, 2014 Wash. App. LEXIS 1693 (July 14, 2014) [2014 Wash. App. LEXIS 1693 (July 14, 2014)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 131.03 [131.03]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.

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