Oregon Court of Appeals Rules on Consequential Condition Claim

Posted on Dec 27, 2013

In a recent decision, the Oregon Court of Appeals agreed with an injured worker that he proved a "consequential condition" claim.

In the Oregon Workers' Compensation system, an injured worker can make a claim for a "consequential condition." A consequential condition is a medical condition that occurs as a result or as a consequence of an already accepted injury. For example, a worker may suffer a leg injury, and as a result, her gait, or the way she walks, may be altered. This altered gait may result in a strain of the lower back. In a case like this, the low back strain as a consequence of the leg injury, and can be included as part of the claim.

In this particular case, the injured worker had already suffered a disc herniation in his low back two years prior to his on-the-job injury. However, when the injured worker suffered a foot injury, the injury altered his gait, and as a result, increased the symptoms from the disc herniation. The increased symptoms and limitations were objectively verified on an examination, which was key to proving the consequential condition claim.  

The Court of Appeals also applied the "substantial evidence" review in determining whether the Workers' Compensation Board correctly decided the case. This doctrine provides that the Court of Appeals will review the Board's decision only to see if there is sufficient evidence to allow a reasonable person to make a similar finding. The Court of Appeals is not interested in re-weighing every bit of evidence to second-guess the Board.  This goes along with the general rule that an Appeals Court will usually defer to the factual findings of a State or federal agency.

If you have a workers' compensation claim involving more than one medical problem, or one medical problem that came about as result of another, call us at 503-325-8600 with any questions you have. We can review your file and tell you your options.