On April 16, 2015, the Washington State Supreme Court overturned the Division I Court of Appeals and decided that the cost of post-pension medical treatment could not be charged against the Second Injury Fund under RCW 51.16.120. The Boeing Co. v. Doss, No 90304-2.
What does that mean for the employer? While the Court's interpretation of RCW 51.16.120(1) is disappointing, the impact of the ruling only affects those cases where post-pension treatment is ordered. For the majority of pension cases, post pension treatment is not indicated or directed. Instead, employers should continue to hire qualified and talented workers despite prior conditions as the Second Injury Fund can potentially reduce the financial risk should the worker become injured.
Second Injury Fund continues to be a viable resolution option, and one that should be considered with every potential pension case. An employer is entitled to Second Injury Fund relief when the injured worker is permanently and totally disabled due to the combined effects of a pre-existing, symptomatic, and partially disabling condition, and the residuals of the industrial injury. Such a determination can be straightforward, but often the analysis requires an integrative appraoch by your claims team, involving the claims administrator, vocational counselor, and attorney.
If you think your case may be headed toward a pension, contact me to discuss whether Second Injury Fund relief is appropriate at 253-383-3791 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.