Q: I recently fell from a ladder, landing on my right shoulder. When the doctor took x-rays, they discovered that I had severe arthritis in the shoulder joint. My doctor says the arthritis probably existed before my accident. Can the Department of Labor and Industries deny benefits to me because of this pre-existing arthritis in the shoulder?
A: Washington courts have, in prior cases, said that if an injury “lights up” or makes active a latent or weakened physical condition, all of the resulting disability is attributable to the injury. What this means is that unless the Department can establish that prior to this industrial injury you were actually having symptoms and disability as a result of the arthritis, then the industrial injury, which has made it symptomatic, is entirely responsible for all treatment and disability that continues thereafter. Learn more about workers’ compensation claims.