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When there is a preexisting condition, the injured worker must prove a higher standard legal causation in order to receive workers compensation benefits.  This was established in the Allen case and is, therefore, referred to as the Allen Test.  In the past any mention of a preexisting condition or even treatment for the same body part 20 years prior to the accident seemed to be enough to trigger that higher standard.  While Mr. Davis was performing his duties, driving a car up to an auction line, he exited the car, moved the back seat forward, and reached into the backseat to retrieve a small hand-held computer weighing 3 1/2 pounds.  When he stood upright again, he felt immediate pain in his low back and dropped to his knees.  He was diagnosed with a disc herniation.  The employer denied benefits, arguing that the injury was the result of a preexisting condition and was not the result of any unusual or extraordinary exertion.  This, in turn, was based  
denied benefits solely due to the existence of a preexisting condition.  Their claims were based on a letter from Dr. Davis' doctor who stated Mr. Davis had previously injured other areas of his back and that, "while mild degenerative changes may have been a precursor or possibly predisposed [Davis] to some further symptoms, I cannot state with medical certainty that they were the predominant or proximate cause of his disc extrusion at L2-3."  The employer argued that the Allen standard only requires that the preexisting condition contributed to the injury.  The ALJ found that there was no affirmative medical opinion that Davis' prior L4-5 back condition caused or contributed to his present L2-3 condition and that, therefore, Allen did not apply and benefits were awarded.  The Court explained that the burden of proving causation by a preexisting condition rests with the employer.  It explained that the ALJ "may not simply presume that the finding of a preexisting condition warrants application of the Allen test.  An employer must prove medically that the claimant suffers from a preexisting condition which contributes to the injury."  The Court then declared that the statement by Davis' doctor that the degenerative changes "may have been a precursor or possibly predisposed Davis" to further symptoms does not meet the employer's burden in that regard and the Allen test therefore did not apply.  The Court therefore upheld the Commission's award of benefits.     This means, in short, that prior injuries or treatment that did not make the injured worker prone to the industrial injury no longer trigger the higher standard under the Allen Test.  This victory not only provided benefits to our client, but also paved the way for an ultimately successful Permanent Total Disability claim.  Utah Auto Auction v. Labor Commission and Davis, 191 P. 3d 1252 (Utah App., 2008).
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