If you were hurt prior to your industrial injury (another name for a Worker’s Compensation Injury), the Department of Labor and Industries must take that into consideration when deciding if you are disabled.
The State of Washington has strong rights, and strong legislation that protects the disabled. Sometimes the Department of Labor and Industries may neglect to follow those rights. Once common instance is people whom have injuries prior to their work-related injury, and the prior injury limits them somewhat, but that person can still work full time until they have their work-related injury.
Recently, our office represented a man who years ago had a very bad knee injury, and multiple shoulder and back troubles. His current claim with the department was that he had suffered a bad wrist fracture. The Department of Labor and Industries, and the Doctors commissioned by the Department to evaluate this man kept stating that he could work because the wrist injury didn’t totally disabled him. The department shut this man out from receiving any further benefits and closed his claim.
We appealed the matter to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals for a further hearing. We showed that this man had other injuries that kept him from lifting heavy weight, and also kept him from walking or standing more than four hours per day. The prior injuries imposed physical limits on this client. When all of those limits were then considered COMBINED with his wrist injury, we proved that he was disabled.
The law is clear that what we argued was in fact the correct standard. Washington wants to protect its citizens that have disabilities, even if the disabilities are limited. All judges involved in our litigation agreed, and this man was found to be disabled once ALL disabilities were considered, even though most of the disabilities were prior to the work injury. Our client was awarded benefits for lost wages (called “timeloss”) for 2.5 years, and awarded a monthly pension benefit for the remainder of his life, as he will not be able to return to work at any time.