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Washington: High Court Clarifies Standard of Proof in Occupational Disease Cases

August 18, 2017 (1 min read)

Stressing that in Washington, the proof of medical causation related to an occupational disease does not require “magic words,” the Supreme Court of Washington affirmed a lower court decision that sustained an award of workers’ compensation benefits claimant’s occupational disease in the form of a low back condition. The Court observed that under Washington’s workers’ compensation law, “occupational disease” is defined as one that “arises naturally and proximately out of employment” [Wash. Rev. Code § 51.08.140]. The Court stated that a worker seeking industrial insurance benefits need not present expert medical testimony to satisfy the “arises naturally” requirement of an occupational disease claim. He or she need only present expert medical testimony to satisfy the “arises proximately” requirement. Here, given that the worker’s attending physician testified that the worker’s low back condition was more probably than not caused by his work, and given that the worker and his supervisor testified as to the worker’s duties working in the paper mill, substantial evidence supported the jury’s finding that the worker’s low back condition constituted an occupational disease.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Street v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 2017 Wash. LEXIS 830 (Aug. 10, 2017)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 130.06.

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