WA Legal Roundup - Washington State Supreme Court
In a 8-0 opinion in which Justice Fairhurst did not participate, the Court held that Arthritis is a permanent partial disability, which can be subtracted from the total disability. In this case, Tomlin was found to be 75% disabled in his leg due to an industrial accident, which was reduced to 25% because he was found to have been 50% PPD prior to the accident due to his arthritis.
Tomlison had argued that arthritis cannot ever reach maximum medical improvement, and thus cannot be a PPD:
However, PPD also has a refined meaning to properly deal with medical conditions that, by their nature may stabilize or improve but later deteriorate again. A condition may reach permanency when it becomes stable and further treatment is unlikely to cure it. WAC 296-20-01002; cf. Allen v. Dep't of Labor & Indus., 48 Wn.2d 317, 318, 293 P.2d 391 (1956) (allowing benefits for arthritis); Harper v. Dep't of Labor & Indus., 46 Wn.2d 404, 281 P.2d 859 (1955) (Wash. Bd. of Indus. Ins. Appeals Sept. 11, 1962); In re Thompson, No. 13,473, at 5-6 (same). A condition may be deemed permanent when it has reached maximum medical improvement, even if it may be expected to deteriorate further. WAC 296-20-01002; accord Allen, 48 Wn.2d at 318.