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Gary Atkin

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Employee working as a nurse sought workers' compensation benefits for injuries suffered while assisting a patient. The Commission determined that the injuries were actually due to a prior work injury she had suffered several years earlier while working for Safeway.  After the Safeway injury, she had received benefits and underwent vocational rehabilitation which trained her for the current nursing job.  Subsequently, the employee filed for additional benefits based upon the injury arising out of the Safeway accident.  The Labor Commission sided with Safeway's argument that it could not be responsible for permanent total disability benefits when the employee had already been re-trained as a nurse and had engaged in that profession for nearly fourteen years.  The Utah Court of Appeals reversed the Commission decision and benefits were subsequently awarded.  The Court explained that the subsequent aggravation of an initial compensable workplace injury remains compensable if the pre-existing injury is "a cause" of the ultimate disability or, in other words, if the subsequent aggravation is the 'natural result' of the primary workplace injury or accident.  Oliver v. Labor Comm'n and ERF, 318 P. 3d 777 (Utah App. 2013)
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