Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 1542 15
E. Smith
  • Recurrences (compensable injury)
  • Second accident

The worker suffered low back injuries in 1989 and 1990. The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying amalgamation of the claims.

A worker can have continued symptoms, and even a permanent impairment award, resulting from one accident and then suffer a second accident to the same body area that worsens the worker's condition. If there has been a new accident, the worsened symptoms are properly adjudication as a new accident under a new claim.
According to Board policy, a recurrence may result from an insignificant new accident or when there is no new accident. Thus, if a worker's symptoms from a prior accident deteriorate over time, the worsened symptoms will be attributed to the prior accident. If a worker is suffering from a deterioration of a prior injury but experiences the worsened symptoms while doing new workplace tasks, the Board will need to determine if the new workplace duties have been a significant contributing factor in the deteriorated symptoms, this is, whether there has been a new accident, or whether the deteriorated symptoms should be compensated as a recurrence of the prior claim.
In this case, the 1990 accident, in which chunks of rock hit the worker and knocked his backwards, pinning him against machinery, was a significant contributing factor in the worsened symptoms experienced by the worker. The Board correctly considered the worsened symptoms to be the result of a new accident.
The appeal was dismissed.