Injury and Accident: Mental or Psychological Stress

Yarborough v. Montana Municipal Insurance Authority, 282 Mont. 475, 938 P.2d 679 (1997). WCC correctly determined post traumatic stress disorder suffered by firefighter arose from shock and fright of work incident, not from relatively minor burns firefighter received. His disability is characterized as mental-mental (mental stimulus, mental consequence), which falls outside the definition of injury in section 39-71-119(3), MCA (1987). See also, Stratemeyer v. Lincoln County, 259 Mont. 147, 855 P.2d 506 (1993) (Stratemeyer I) and Stratemeyer v. Lincoln County, 276 Mont. 67, 915 P.1d 175 (Stratemeyer II).
Burgan v. Liberty Northwest [8/27/03] 2003 MTWCC 59 Although claimant had a headache and bad taste in his mouth following exposure to gas, he presented no objective medical findings of a physical injury as required under section 39-71-119(1)(a), MCA (2001). The Court is persuaded that claimant's disabling mental condition resulted from his psychological reaction to the work incident. Under section 39-71-119, MCA (2001), and Yarborough v. MMIA, 282 Mont. 475, 938 P.2d 679 (1997), claimant's condition is a mental-mental condition not compensable under the Workers' Compensation Act.
Yarborough v. MMIA [6/28/96] WCC NO. 9505-7309 Where the evidence demonstrates that it was mental shock or mental fright that gave rise to firefighter claimant's post traumatic stress disorder, his allegedly disabling condition is one "arising from....emotional or mental stress" and is excluded from the definition of compensable injury within section 39-71-119(3), MCA (1987). (Note: this decision was affirmed in Yarborough v. Montana Municipal Insurance Authority, 282 Mont. 475, 938 P.2d 679 (1997).)
Peterson v. State Comp. Ins. Fund [11/23/94] 1994 MTWCC 105 Although the 1987 Legislature amended the definition of compensable injuries to exclude mental conditions “arising from (a) emotional or mental stress; or (b) a non physical stimulus or activity,” mental conditions remain compensable when caused or aggravated by physical injuries meeting the statutory definition of compensable industrial injury. Where persuasive psychiatric evidence indicated that claimant suffered from depression or a somatoform disorder caused by his physical injury, he is entitled to ongoing temporary total disability benefits as long as he is disabled by the resulting mental condition, but those benefits are conditioned on him following reasonable medical and psychological advice. Given medical evidence, including evidence that claimant improved previously when on psychiatric medication, a psychiatric referral is appropriate if not essential.