Injury and Accident: Unexpected Strain or Injury

MONTANA SUPREME COURT DECISIONS
Siebken v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. [10/21/08] 2008 MT 353 Where the incident reports of an altercation did not describe an unusual strain or trauma, it was incumbent on the claimant to notify his employer when he learned that he had suffered an unusual strain because under these facts, the employer could not have reasonably understood an injury had occurred. There must be something in the notice that would indicate “to a reasonably conscientious manager that the case might involve a potential compensation claim.”
 
WORKERS' COMPENSATION COURT DECISIONS
Petritz v. Montana State Fund [06/10/10] 2010 MTWCC 17 On an 85-degree day, a sheet metal worker was installing a piece of duct work onto an assembly which weighed several hundred pounds when the jack holding the duct work in place became snagged and twisted the assembly.  The worker lifted one end of the duct work and held it while other workers freed the jack.  The incident qualifies as an unusual strain and therefore constitutes an accident as defined by the statute.
Siebken v. Liberty [11/27/07] 2007 MTWCC 48 The incident reports filed by bank security guards which describe physically restraining a trespasser do not describe “an unexpected traumatic incident or unusual strain,” and therefore do not describe an “accident” as that term is defined in the statute.
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).
Weatherwax v. State Fund [3/22/00] 2000 MTWCC 15 Claimant proved unexpected strain or injury 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).")
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, who treated claimant's knee condition both before and after the incident, established that following the dismounting incident claimant's condition was different, with a different diagnosis and requiring different treatment.
Cheetham v. Liberty NW [6/11/97] 1997 MTWCC 37 51-year old heavy equipment and crane operator suffered an aortic dissection after spending 20 to 30 minutes trying to start a gas powered pump, requiring 50 to 70 pulls on a cord similar to those on lawn mowers. The general criteria for a compensable injury under section 39-71-119(2), MCA (1995) are met where an usual strain at work caused claimant internal physical harm, verified by objective medical findings. In cases of cardiovascular incidents, section 39-71-119(5)(a), MCA (1995), permits compensation "only if the accident is the primary cause of the physical condition in relation to other factors contributing to the physical condition," with "primary cause" defined as "a cause that, with a reasonable degree of medical certainty, is responsible for more than 50% of the physical condition." Where two physicians, one a cardiologist, credibly testified claimant's aortic dissection was more than 50% attributable to his episode of high blood pressure, which in turn was caused by strenuous work activities, the condition is compensable.
Ostwald v. Plum Creek Manufacturing [12/19/95] 1995 MTWCC 107 Denial of claim under WCC was unreasonable where claimant’s report of pop in back, accompanied by burning pain and numbness, described an expected unusual strain, identifiable by time and place and by part of the body affected, and caused by a single event during a single work shift. The incident was an “unusual strain” in the classical sense.
Marcott v. Louisiana Pacific Corp. [12/07/94] 1994 MTWCC 109 Crediting mechanic’s testimony that he was rushing and turned sharply, placing unusual strain on his calf muscle, the Court finds ruptured calf muscle compensable.