Limitations period not renewed for claim against subsequent employer
Case name: Baker v. Liberty Northwest Insurance Corp., No. A140572 (Or. Ct. App. 06/19/13).
Ruling: The Oregon Court of Appeals held that an electrician's claim for benefits was barred by the statute of limitations.
What it means: In Oregon, an occupational disease claim barred by the statute of limitations is also barred against a worker's subsequent employer.
Summary: A journeyman electrician was diagnosed with shoulder disease. His doctor performed surgery and informed him that his work was the cause of his disease. He did not file a claim for workers' compensation benefits at that time. More than two years later, he began working for a new employer. He began to experience increased symptoms in his shoulder, including pain and grinding. The electrician sought treatment and filed an occupational disease claim against both employers. Both employers' insurers denied compensability for his shoulder condition and asserted that the claims were untimely. The Oregon Court of Appeals held that the electrician's claims were untimely.
An occupational disease claim must be filed within one year from the date the worker first discovered the occupational disease or within one year from the date the worker became disabled or was informed by a physician that he suffered from an occupational disease, whichever is later. It was undisputed that the electrician knew that he suffered from the shoulder condition that was related to his work when he had the first surgery. He did not dispute that he was disabled. Therefore, the court found that his claim against the first employer was barred.
The electrician claimed that a new limitations period should begin with his new employer because his subsequent exposure with the new employer caused a worsening of his condition. The court found that the claim was for the same condition diagnosed before he worked for the employer. Therefore, the claim was also barred.
A dissenting judge opined that the statute of limitations would not prohibit a worker from filing an occupational disease claim against a new employer when it would have been impossible to file such a claim because the worker began work for the employer more than one year after a physician informed the worker that he suffered from an occupational disease.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
September 9, 2013
Copyright 2013© LRP Publications