Injury and Accident: Accident

MONTANA SUPREME COURT DECISIONS
King v. TTC Illinois, Inc., 2000 MT 260 Where WCC credited testimony indicating the decedent, an over-the-road truck driver, died of longstanding severe atherosclerotic disease, claimants failed to meet their burden of establishing that death was casued by a specific event on a single day or during a single work shift as required by section 39-71-119(2)(d), MCA (1993).
Walls v. Travelers Indemnity Co., 281 Mont. 106, 931 P.2d 712 (1997) Substantial evidence supported WCC determination that claimant was not injured while moving a lawn ornament at work.
 
MONTANA WORKERS' COMPENSATION COURT DECISIONS
Harger v. Montana Contractor Compensation Fund [12/26/03] 2003 MTWCC 72 Where claimant asserts that physical harm arose over a single work shift, his claim arises under the Workers' Compensation Act, not the Occupational Disease Act. §§ 39-71-119(2)(d) and 39-72-102(10), MCA (1999).
Baker v. State Fund [6/15/00] 2000 MTWCC 35 Where claimant's testimony was contradicted by other witnesses and logs kept in employment, and claimant himself was not a credible witness, he failed to convince the WCC he had suffered an injury at work.
Weatherwax v. State Fund [3/22/00] 2000 MTWCC 15 Claimant proved "accident" on single day in accordance with section 39-71-407(2), MCA (1991) by proving his pre-existing back condition materially worsened on and after single day's work of lifting and moving cabinets, even though he could not identify a single, specific incident of lifting that caused worsening.
King v. Credit General Ins. Co. [11/10/99] 1999 MTWCC 72 WCC was not persuaded that work activities of over-the-road truck driver caused an arrhythmia leading to his death, but credited testimony indicating claimant died from longstanding "severe atherosclerotic disease." While the definition of accident includes an unusual strain, claimants failed to prove that death resulted from a specific event on a single day or during a single work shift as required by statute. Note: WCC affirmed on appeal, King v. Credit General, 2000 MT 260 ("the Kings did not meet their burden of establishing that Russell King's death was ‘caused by a specific event on a single day or during a single work shift' as required under section 39-71-119(2)(d), MCA (1993).")
Liberty Northwest Ins. Co. v. Michael Stolz [11/9/99] 1999 MTWCC 71 While the insurer's counsel's questioning tried to make it appear that claimant's pain resulted from one incident, a complete reading of claimant's testimony shows that while there may have been one day on which claimant began experiencing pain, it was not associated with a specific event or incident. Physician's testimony suggests it is more probable that lifting over several days led to the condition, making it an occupational disease.
Branch v. Liberty Northwest Ins. Co. [9/27/99] 1999 MTWCC 57 Motel housekeeper filed claim for injury but credible evidence indicated her cervical disk condition arose over two week period due to lifting heavy laundry, not from any accident causing sudden onset. Although claimant had not filed an occupational disease claim, and no occupational disease examination had been conducted, the parties waived their rights to a medical panel examination and stipulated that the Court may determine whether she suffered an injury or occupational disease.
Jensen v. State Fund [4/2/99] 1999 MTWCC 25 Carpet installer claimed he fell down stairs at work, having grabbed a broken handrail, and was injured. After hearing testimony from several witnesses, including that of claimant's brother and sister-in-law that claimant spoke about staging a fall at work "for his retirement," WCC concluded claim was fraudulent.
LaPlante v. Town Pump, Inc. [1/26/99] 1999 MTWCC 8 While the record makes clear claimant has serious back problems, neither claimant nor the witnesses testifying on her behalf were credible regarding the occurrence of the alleged accident. In addition to the Court's observation of witnesses, the Court relied upon inconsistencies between claimant's description of the accident and the description of another witness testifying for her, records indicating claimant stopped working before the date she claimed the accident occurred, and the absence of any mention of a work injury in her medical records.
Jacobs v. Liberty Northwest Ins. [9/25/98] 1998 MTWCC 68 While claimant proved that electrician work for his employer caused a temporary exacerbation of preexisting shoulder and left limb problems, he did not prove injury on a single day or work shift. His petition for a compensable injury is dismissed, but the WCC notes the insurer is obligated to adjust his claim under the Occupational Disease Act where elements of an OD have been proven.
Copley v. UEF [7/22/98] 1998 MTWCC 58 Head waitress for a steakhouse claimed she injured her back lifting a tray from the salad bar on December 2, 1996, a date on which the steakhouse was uninsured. Although the UEF and employer did not affirmatively prove claimant injured her back in another way, their evidence regarding claimant's snowmobiling, care for her husband after hernia surgery, and activity moving to a new home, along with the Court's observation and evaluation of the testimony of claimant and her witnesses, leads the Court to include claimant was not injured during employment. Factors considered by the Court include: claimant in fact worked after the claimed injury and did not complain of pain; claimant complained to numerous people about the burdens of assisting her husband after surgery, which occurred after her own claimed injury, but failed to mention her own alleged back injury; credible evidence indicated claimant packed belongings and participated in the move of her household after the alleged injury and before reporting it; her employers were also her friends and co-workers, making it unlikely she would not have mentioned a back injury.
Kiefer v. Liberty NW Ins. Corp. [3/23/98] 1998 MTWCC 27 Laborer/ supervisors claim based on alleged second back injury denied where Court did not credit claimant's testimony, but credited witnesses from employer, whose story indicates claimant quit and filed a workers' compensation claim in anger because he believed the employer was unfairly checking the work of his "line."
Wall v. National Union Fire Ins. Co. [2/24/98] 1998 MTWCC 11 Where claimant credibly testified to stepping 12-18 inches from a rail car ladder to the ground, and falling to the ground in severe left knee pain, he established an accident and injury within section 39-71-119, MCA (1995). Even if the dismounting incident were not considered a traumatic incident in the strict sense, a compensable injury can be proven with evidence of "an unusual result from a work-related strain" where internal or external harm is established by objective medical findings. Credible medical evidence from claimant's treating physician, an expert in sports medicine and knee conditions, established that following the dismounting incident claimant's condition was different, with a different diagnosis and requiring different treatment.
Daenzer v. State Fund/Curtis Bartell [1/29/98] 1998 MTWCC 4 In case where uninsured employer seeks to avoid personal liability on claim, WCC rejects employer's arguments that claimant was in fact injured in a bar fight and/or not at work as alleged. Time records kept by claimant support his version of events and render the employer's testimony not credible. The timing of statements in medical records also support's claimant's testimony.
Lockhart v. New Hampshire Ins. Co. [12/11/97] 1997 MTWCC 67 The parties disputed whether claimant's wrist condition resulted entirely from deterioration of Silastic lunate implant he received fifteen years earlier, or whether his hammering in construction job caused fragmentation in implant or surrounding bone. WCC was persuaded an injury occurred, based upon: claimant's credible testimony that he had no wrist pain until the incident at issue, the treating physician was more familiar with claimant's condition than the IME physician (who performed hundreds of IMEs a year for insurance companies), and another physician's reference to a "fragment" on an x-ray supports the treating physician's analysis.
Vezina v. State Fund [11/21/97] 1997 MTWCC 65 Claimant with history of knee and back work injuries, who worked only two days for employer, filed claim for compensation almost one year after the alleged injury. The Court was not persuaded an injury occurred. The injury was not witnessed and claimant himself was not a credible witness. His testimony was inconsistent and vague. In addition, the following mitigated against the occurrence of an injury: record of medical care indicate that claimant did not report a work injury, but a continuation of earlier problems; on a doctor's form asking for description of how accident occurred, claimant wrote "Wyo," evidently a reference to an earlier injury in Wyoming; claimant had in fact tried to have his medical bills covered under a claim related to the earlier Wyoming injury.
Lewis v. Liberty NW [6/4/97] 1997 MTWCC 35 Where claimant was not credible regarding the occurrence of an workplace accident, the Court finds she has not proven any entitlement to benefits. WCC does not reach an issue of notice to the employer/insurer where it concludes no accident occurred.
Walling v. Argonaut Ins. [10/28/96] 1996 MTWCC 68 58-year old construction worker with a history of back pain claimed to have hurt his back when lifting the hood of a backhoe to check the oil. WCC credited two co-workers, who testified claimant mentioned a long history of back problems, but no work injury. Neither claimant, nor his witnesses, were credible. Claim denied.
McClanahan v. State Fund [7/5/96] 1996 MTWCC 50 Where claimant consistently described accident in which trailer released by employer's grandson pinned his foot and caused him to twist and fall, hurting his back, his testimony is more credible than that of grandson and employer, who appeared to minimize what happened to avoid responsibility.
Jacqui Walls v. Travelers Indemnity Co. [1/17/96] 1996 MTWCC WCC aff'd in Walls v. Travelers Indemnity Co., 281 Mont. 106, 931 P.2d 712 (1997). WCC did not credit testimony of 42-year old cashier that she injure her back carrying a lawn ornament to a customer's car. Several witnesses gave testimony contradicting that of claimant.
Maas v. Lumbermen's Casualty [3/22/96] 1996 MTWCC 27 Although insurer had good reasons for questioning occurrence of fall alleged by bakery worker, WCC credited testimony of claimant that fall occurred and found apparently conflicting evidence reconcilable with claimant's testimony.
Bonan v. State Fund [1/12/96] 1996 MTWCC WCC 6 WCC denied claim of 44-year old bartended relating to necrotizing fasciitis, a potentially life-threatening infection, which claimant alleged arose after he cut his thumb at work. Emergency room record indicates infection followed crack in thumb after claimant pulled a hangnail. Bar manager testified claimant had called her after hospitalization asking her to consider the injury as a workers' compensation injury because he did not have other insurance, conceding during that conversation that he had not been injured at work.
Bailey v. State Fund [1/5/96] 1995 MTWCC 3 36-year old construction worker failed to persuade WCC that skin condition, diagnosed as eczema dermatitis, arose or was triggered on particular roofing job. No accident or injury occurred within WCA.