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Workers' Compensation

Utah: Worker Succeeds in Showing Enhanced Burden of Proof Regarding her Preexisting Condition Injury

Workers in Utah with preexisting conditions face an enhanced burden of proof in establishing legal causation. Under the so-called "Allen standard" [see Allen v. Industrial Comm’n, 729 P.2d 15, 25 (Utah 1986)], the injured worker must “show that the employment contributed something substantial to increase the risk already faced in everyday life because of her preexisting condition.” Utilizing that standard, a state appellate court found that the Labor Commission's Appeals Board had erred in denying the claim of a worker with preexisting osteoarthritis who suffered a torn meniscus in her right knee when her foot slipped off a sewing machine pedal as she hurriedly worked to make her production quota. Noting that the inquiry into the "unusualness" of the workplace activity was an objective assessment that the appellate court was in a better position to analyze than the Labor Commission, the court said the exertion expended by the worker at the time of her injury was greater than that usually undertaken by an average person in non-employment life. Moreover, the pedal was more slippery than she would normally have anticipated, since it had no grip tape and was partially obstructed by a stray piece of cloth.

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

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Oceguera v. Labor Comm’n, 2020 UT App 83, 2020 Utah App. LEXIS 82 (May 29, 2020)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 43.03.

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

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see

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