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Workers’ Compensation: Injury or Occupational Disease

Let’s consider the fact that you have lower back pain or shoulder pain. The pain started while you were at work,  on a jobsite, or in the “course of employment”.

Would it be classified as an Injury or Occupational Disease?

Injury

According to RCW 51.08.100, an injury is a sudden and tangible happening, of a traumatic nature, producing an immediate or prompt result, and occurring from without, and such physical conditions as result therefrom.   This means, you feel fine and all of a sudden you hear a pop, feel acute pain, break a bone, tear a tendon, get hit by falling debris, etc.

The Industrial Insurance Act interprets an “injury” liberally for the benefit of the worker. A claim for an injury must be made within one year of the injury.

Occupational Disease

According to RCW 51.08.140, an “occupational disease” is such disease or infection as arises naturally and proximately out of employment under the mandatory or elective adoption provisions of this title. Generally, an occupational disease happens over time from continuous exposure in the workplace, i.e. repetitive motion leading to joint damage, asbestosis, carpal tunnel, etc.

A claim for an occupational disease must be made within two years following the date the worker is provided written notice from a physician of the existence of the disease that a claim for disability benefits may be filed.

Need more help?

There are a lot of factors and exceptions to consider when filing a claim for an injury and occupational disease. For a FREE injury consultation with Althauser Rayan Abbarno in Centralia or Olympia, call (360) 736-1301.

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