October/November 2021  Volume 19, Number 5        

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Workers Comp Basics: Disability Apportionment

When determining disability awards in cases where there are multiple causes, it may be necessary to apportion the causes of the injury.

The injury may be the result of both work-related and non-work-related causes. Or the injury may have been compounded by a pre-existing injury. A pre-existing injury can be a:

  • non-work-related injury
  • non-work-related medical condition
  • previous work injury

In these situations, an apportionment will determine the percentage of the total cost of the injury the employer is responsible for.

Non-work-related injuries

Assume an employee injures her knee at work. It’s determined that she hurt her knee playing soccer in high school and it’s been stiff ever since. The doctor may assign only a 20% apportionment of the injury to work. This will reduce the disability award accordingly.

Prior Injuries

Doctors will determine to what extent a prior injury is a factor in the new injury and make an apportionment between the two. If available, the doctor will consult medical evidence pertaining to the initial injury. If the employee had received a settlement for the injury the first time, there will be an apportionment of the new disability award. If for example, an employee had a 20% disability for his knee and is found to now have 35% permanent disability, the prior award will be subtracted from the 35%.

There are many variations and details involved in apportionment cases. This is only a brief overview. For more information, consult your claims advisor.

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In this issue:

This Just In...

OSHA Urges Employers to Require Vaccinations

Updates on “Long Haul COVID” Claims

Mental Health Recognized as Significant Workplace Issue

Workers Comp Basics: Disability Apportionment



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