Under Washington State law, a workplace “injury” means a sudden and tangible happening, of a traumatic nature, producing an immediate or prompt result, and occurring from without, and such physical conditions as result therefrom. (RCW 51.08.100)
One of the three distinct elements in the definition of “injury” is the requirement of a “sudden and tangible happening,” commonly referred to as the accident. The accident must be a matter of notoriety, fixed in time, susceptible to investigation, and connected with the employment.
An experienced Washington workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine if your injury qualifies for benefits under the law.
What Types of Workplace Accidents Qualify for Washington Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
The following occurrences have been allowed as sudden and tangible happenings under the Act:
- Bending over to pick up a box of rivets. The worker strained his back. Dayton v. Department of Labor & Industries, 45 Wn.2d 797 (1954).
- Repeated jolts from an unanchored yarding machine administers a “severe beating” to the worker over the course of one day. The court endorsed the repeated trauma doctrine. Lehtinen v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 63 Wn.2d 456, 387 P.2d 760 (1963).
- Twisting and reaching at an odd angle to reach a phone. The clerk-typist suffered an immediate back injury. The court held, “The requirements of a ‘traumatic’ happening, and one ‘occurring from without,’ are satisfied by the sudden strain, originating outside the body in answer to the demands of the job, which, when applied internally, proximately caused the bodily failure.” The Boeing Company v. Fine, 65 Wn.2d 169 (1964).
- Hiking a mile uphill and over rough terrain, while carrying heavy equipment, to reach an area to survey. The surveyor developed hyperventilation syndrome and an anxiety disorder. The Board opined, “there is no legal requirement that such tangible happening or event be instantaneous or confined to a period measured in a certain number of seconds or even minutes.” In re: James Jacobs, BIIA No. 48 634 (1977).
- Bending over to pick up a metal strap off a floor. The worker suffered a low back injury; no showing of an unusual or awkward motion was required. Longview Fibre Co. v. Weimer, 95 Wn.2d 583, 628 P.2d 456 (1981).
- Carrying boxes and moving office belongings for two hours one afternoon. The worker suffered a shoulder strain. In re: Renford Gallier, BIIA No. 89 3109 (1990).
- Suffering threats to personal safety made by a disturbed coworker. The threatened worker developed PTSD as a result. In re: Virginia Key, BIIA No. 94 4700 (1996).
If you have a question about whether your injury is the result of an accident under Washington state law, we encourage you to contact the Seattle workers’ accident attorneys of Kinney Law Group to schedule a consultation. Our attorneys handle cases throughout Eastern and Western Washington. We look forward to answering your questions and protecting your interests.