Krasno Krasno & OnwudinjoWhen You Need A Workers' Compensation Or Social Security Attorney
Serving Philadelphia Since 1936
No Fee Unless We Win
En Español

Ruling questions role of pre-existing conditions in work injuries

A recent U.S. Court of Appeals ruling could have serious consequences for Pennsylvania workers. However, the lasting impacts of the decision will come as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration measures its reaction.

The case came in response to a woman's request for benefits for a work injury she received on an assembly line at a Caterpillar plant. After five weeks on the job, the woman developed medial and lateral epicondylitis, a repetitive motion injury better known as tennis elbow. Company officials ruled that work-related tasks alone did not contribute to her medical condition. As a result, they did not log her injury according to OSHA regulations.

In response to this decision, OSHA disputed the company's and issued a citation for failing to report this injury. Caterpillar appealed the citation and the court of appeals sided with the employer.

The primary basis for the employer's objection is whether or not a pre-existing condition could have been the cause of her injury. According to representatives for the company, none of the other workers on the woman's packing line have suffered from tennis elbow.

However, the ambiguous nature of current OSHA regulations is likely to contribute to future legal action. Existing rules stipulate that an injury is classified as work-related if the "work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition." Questions of how "contributed to" is defined is likely to be clarified by the agency. Based on how OSHA has acted in recent years, observers believe they will create a broader definition that would likely include an injury such as the one sustained by the Caterpillar employee.

As OSHA clarifies its position, it will be vital for employees and employers to pay attention to how workplace injuries are reported. If the definition of a workplace injury becomes more encompassing, an employee's claim for workers' compensation benefits could be bolstered if it is included on the injury log submitted to OSHA.

Source: Human Resources Executive Online, "OSHA Boomerang?" Tom Starner, May 4, 2012

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Email Us For A Response

YOU HAVE 120 DAYS TO REPORT A WORK INJURY - DO NOT DELAY! Fill out the form and an attorney will be in touch with you shortly.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Attorneys Recognized For Excellence

Our Philadelphia firm and attorneys have received numerous accolades in the area of workers' compensation law. Several of our attorneys have been recognized by their peers and listed in Super Lawyers since 2006. The Super Lawyers process recognizes the top lawyers in their fields in Pennsylvania.

Since 2010, our law firm has been rated as a tier-one law firm for workers' compensation law claimants in Pennsylvania by U.S. News & World Report — Best Law Firms Edition.

Since 2009, Jason Krasno has been selected to the Best Lawyers® "America's Best" series. The Best Lawyers® award is given only to a handful of attorneys throughout the United States each year. Jason was also selected as a top workers' compensation attorney. You can see the articles on Jason in Newsweek's Aug. 23, 2010, edition.

Krasno Krasno & OnwudinjoWhen You Need A Workers' Compensation Or Social Security Attorney
Serving Philadelphia Since 1936

1429 Walnut Street, 16th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Toll Free: 877-794-2396
Phone: 215-310-0001
Philadelphia Law Office Map