Caused By Injury or Wear and Tear?

Do you have arthritis in your knee because of that old work injury from years ago? Or do you have arthritis in your knee because of the heavy work you have done for many years after that old injury? Or both? These questions came up in a recent case decided by the Workers’ Compensation Board and then reviewed by the Court of Appeals. The court upheld the board’s decision that, although according to doctors Mr. Pruitt’s knee injury from 1976 was the major cause of knee arthritis, the arthritis was also caused by work activities over his lifetime, including the 1976 work injury. Because Mr. Pruitt presented his claim only as an “occupational disease” (that is, wear and tear over time) and not as a claim for a “consequential condition” of the 1976 injury, evidence supported the board’s decision that Mr. Pruitt’s last employer was responsible for the knee arthritis as an occupational disease. Waste Management v. Pruitt, __Or App__(December 3, 2008).

The court relied in part on a case that Jim Edmunson of this firm had earlier argued and won, Kepford v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 77 Or App 363 (1986).

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