Causation: Impact of Nonwork-related Incident

Uffalussy v. St. Patrick Hospital [11/06/07] 2007 MTWCC 45 Where three physicians expressed opinions that Petitioner’s cognitive impairment was related to her 1997 industrial injury based on their opinions that Petitioner’s head injuries, depression, and chronic pain contributed to the collective cause of her cognitive impairment, the burden of proof shifted to Respondent. Although Petitioner reported to emergency room personnel that she “thinks” she hit the back of her head at the time of the MVA, she reported no loss of consciousness, no bumps or lacerations on her head were observed, and the physical examination of Petitioner’s head revealed it to be “normocephalic, atraumatic.” Therefore, Respondent failed to meet its burden of proof.
Uffalussy v. St. Patrick Hospital [11/06/07] 2007 MTWCC 45 “Once the claimant has proven a work-related injury and produced evidence that that injury is a cause of a present disability, an insurer who alleges that subsequent events are the actual cause of the claimant’s current disability has the burden of proving that allegation, which is in the nature of an affirmative defense, by a preponderance of the evidence.” Briney v. Pacific Employers Ins. Co., 283 Mont. 346, 351, 942 P.2d 81, 84 (1997) citing Walker v. United Parcel Serv., 262 Mont. 450, 456, 865 P.2d 1113, 1117 (1993).
Kratovil v. Liberty Northwest Ins. Corp. [07/17/07] 2007 MTWCC 30 The legal standard for determining proximate causation under § 39-72-408, MCA, is whether a claimant’s employment significantly aggravated or contributed to his alleged occupational disease. Even if a nonwork-related motorcycle accident contributed to Petitioner’s hand and wrist conditions, the Court concludes that Petitioner’s employment significantly aggravated or contributed to his occupational disease and did so both before and after the motorcycle accident.

Cary v. Lumbermens Mutual Casualty Co. [7/7/95] 1995 MTWCC 56 Section 39-71-407(5), MCA (1993) relieves an insurer from further liability for claimant’s condition only if claimant’s nonwork-related injury amounted to a permanent aggravation of her condition. If the aggravation is permanent, then future disability and treatment is “caused” by the nonwork-related injury within the meaning of the statute. If the nonwork related incident caused only a temporary flare-up of symptoms of her underlying condition, further treatment and any future disability is still caused by the work related injury for which the insurer remains liable.