Hawaii’s Intermediate Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the state’s Special Compensation Fund is not obligated to pay permanent partial disability benefits if a worker’s preexisting condition did not cause a disability.
IN Pave v. Production Processing, Inc.the court heard a consolidated pair of appeals involving workers who were injured on the job and sought partial benefits from the trust fund.
The fund is financed annually through fees paid by workers’ compensation insurance and kicks in if an employer fails to pay workers’ compensation to injured employees.
In its ruling, the appeals court held that in each of the two cases there was no evidence that the injured workers̵7; asymptomatic conditions had caused a disability prior to their respective work accidents, and that the Hawaii Labor and Industrial Relations Board of Appeals erred in apportioning liability for the permanent partial disability benefits to the fund.
The court wrote that in each of the cases, at least one physician attributed the cause of disability after an occupational accident to a pre-existing condition, but there was no evidence that the pre-existing conditions caused any loss or impairment of physical or mental function prior to the accident.
In the first case, Production Processing Inc. sought a distribution with the fund in connection with a worker’s neck injury. The second case involved Altres Inc. and a knee injury to a worker.
The fund appealed both cases and questioned the allocation of responsibility.