WA Supreme Court: No Second Injury Fund Relief for Post-Pension Treatment
Here, the worker was exposed to some chemicals through the course of her career. She had a leg injury previously, but the combination of the leg injury and asthma from the exposure made her permanently disabled and she was awarded a pension. Boeing did not want to pay for any treatment caused by the exposure after the pension was awarded. You can imagine how that went down.
Self-insured employers are generally responsible for all disability and medical costs associated with their workers' compensation claims. See RCW 51.08.173 (defining "self-insurer"); WAC 296-15-330 (describing self-insured employers' authorization requirements for medical care). . . .
In most circumstances, a pensioned worker is not entitled to continued medical benefits. RCW 51.36.010(4). However, the Department may authorize medical treatment for previously accepted conditions, including life-sustaining treatment. Id. This medical treatment results in postpension medical costs, so called because they are not part of the total cost of the pension reserve, which, as explained, is based on an annuity that estimates future wage replacement benefits. See RCW 51.44.070(1 ). . . .
Because the second injury fund is limited to accident costs, Boeing is not entitled to second injury fund relief for medical costs under RCW 51.16.120(1). RCW 51.44.040, which expressly limits charges to the second injury fund to two statutes, does not discuss medical costs at all. The relevant statute, RCW 51.16.120(1), also does not consider medical costs. There is simply no statute that supports Boeing's position that medical treatment costs must be paid from the second injury fund, and neither RCW 51.44.040 nor RCW 51.16.120(1) relieve Boeing of its duty as a selfinsured employer to cover all costs associated with a worker's claim.
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