California Court of Appeals Upholds Benson
On March 10, 2009, the California court of appeal has confirmed finding in Benson which ultimately expands protections for employers.
In Benson v. Workers’ Comp Appeals Board 170 Cal. App. 4th 1535, it was determined that if an employee suffers from a specific injury and a cumulative injury, regardless of when the injury occurred, they are entitled to two separate awards, one for each injury. The Court ruled the worker is not entitled to a combined award with a longer payout period as this is contrary to the legislative intent.
Benson overrules the determinations in the prior case of Wilkinson.
Under Benson, the cause of disability for each industrial injury must now be determined and apportioned. Therefore, all potential causes of disability including current industrial injury, a prior or subsequent industrial injury, or a prior or subsequent non-industrial injury must be taken into consideration.