The Oregon Court of Appeals recently decided that a long-standing requirement in Oregon workers’ compensation law has not changed. In Knaggs v. Allegheny Technologies, dba Wah-Chang, __P3d__(October 15, 2008), the court held that a person claiming an accidental work injury must prove the injury was at least a material contributing cause of the need for medical treatment or of the cause of disability from work. The requirement comes from the statute that defines a work injury as one “arising out of” employment.
The court distinguished another recent case that addressed the standard of proof in cases involving further coverage for medical services in an accepted claim. In the earlier case, Mize v. Comcast Corp-AT & T Broadband, 208 Or App 563, 145 P3d 315 (2006), the court had held that a “minor” contribution could qualify as a sufficient cause under the statute requiring an insurer to pay for medical services for conditions “caused in material part” by the injury.
In practical terms, there will usually be little difference between the two standards, as suggested by the concurring opinion of one of the judges in the Mize decision. However, this standard of proof is considerably different that the more stringent requirement of “major” contributing cause that is required to prove a claim for an occupational disease and for accidental injuries that combine with certain pre-existing conditions.
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