Permanent Disability versus Preexisting Condition
In a recent decision, the Worker’s Compensation Board disagreed with a reduction in an injured worker’s disability award. A Medical Arbiter, appointed to evaluate a worker’s permanent disability, had reduced the injured worker’s award because he thought that 50% of the worker’s reduced range of motion was due to a preexisting condition. Oregon law states that when an injured worker has a preexisting condition that is either arthritis, or another condition that was diagnosed and treated before the work injury, the amount of permanent disability is “apportioned,” or reduced, by the amount of contribution from the preexisting condition. The Board said that the worker’s preexisting spondylosis was not a legally recognized preexisting condition that would allow for a reduction and the State did not accurately apply the law. The Board increased the worker’s disability award accordingly.