Proof: Burden of Proof: Generally


Ford v. Sentry Casualty Company, 2012 MT 156 When construing §§ 39-71-407 and -119, MCA, together, the statutory standard is clear: the claimant’s burden to establish an accident, an injury or aggravation of a preexisting condition, and a causal connection between the accident and the injury/aggravation is “more probable than not.”


Kellegher v. MACO Workers' Compensation Trust [08/12/15] 2015 MTWCC 16 The Court rejected Respondent’s argument that Petitioner was not permanently totally disabled because no physician had opined that Petitioner could not work.  Respondent cannot shift the burden of proof onto Petitioner before it first meets its burden of proving that approved jobs exist, pursuant to § 39-71-609(2), MCA.

Peters v. American Zurich Ins. Co. [02/11/14] 2014 MTWCC 4 The Court rejected Petitioner’s argument that he should be excused from meeting his burden of proof because of “an extremely severe mental and emotional injury” where Petitioner cited no legal authority in support of his position.

Holmes v. Safeway Inc. [03/06/12] 2012 MTWCC 8 After the insurer meets its initial burden of producing evidence that an injured worker is not permanently totally disabled by obtaining a physician’s approval of one or more jobs suitable for the injured worker, the burden then shifts to the injured worker to dispute the approved job analyses.  The mere testimony of the injured worker that he does not believe he can work in any capacity is insufficient to overcome evidence to the contrary.

Peterson v. Uninsured Employers' Fund [03/05/12] 2012 MTWCC 7 Petitioner failed to meet his burden of proof that he sustained an “accident” as defined by § 39-71-119, MCA, where the only evidence supporting his claim was the description in his medical records that a storage unit door fell on him.  Due to his cognitive difficulties, Petitioner was unable to give an accurate accounting of the events that caused his accident.  Every other witness testified that the storage unit doors cannot fall down when they are opened, and there was insufficient medical evidence to prove his condition resulted from trauma.

Erving v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity [01/13/12] 2012 MTWCC 4 Where at the end of trial, the Court remained unclear as to Petitioner’s theory of her case, the Court concluded that she had not met her burden of proof. While Petitioner argued that it was Respondent’s responsibility to accept her claim and sort out the particulars, the Court noted that Respondent was not the insurer at risk for a previous, potentially contributory, claim and that the burden of proof ultimately lies with the claimant.

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).
Heffner v. Montana State Fund [09/10/07] 2007 MTWCC 40 When viewing the evidence in its totality, the Court was not persuaded that it was more probable than not that Petitioner’s injury was causally related to his 1980 industrial accident. In reviewing the WCC’s decisions, the Montana Supreme Court has previously held that when the WCC is not persuaded by the totality of the evidence produced that a causal link exists between an industrial injury and a medical condition for which benefits are sought, the record is sufficient to support the Court’s findings. Giles v. Bozeman Public Schools, 257 Mont. 289, 294, 849 P.2d 180, 184 (1993).
Heffner v. Montana State Fund [09/10/07] 2007 MTWCC 40 While it is correct that a medical possibility may, along with other evidence, carry Petitioner’s burden of proof under the pre-1995 Workers’ Compensation Act, it is still the petitioner’s burden to prove, on a more-probable-than-not basis, that his injury is causally related to his industrial accident.
Heffner v. Montana State Fund [07/13/07] 2007 MTWCC 29 Where Petitioner suffered several serious injuries as a result of an industrial accident that occurred approximately eight years prior to the first concrete piece of medical evidence indicating a possible disk herniation at the L4-L5 disk level, and some twenty-four years prior to the detection of a large fragment at the same level, the Court finds that Petitioner failed to satisfy his burden of proof that his herniation and fragment are the result of his industrial accident. The mere possibility that his disk herniation is related to the accident is not sufficient to satisfy this burden. Viewed in its totality, the evidence relating the herniation and fragment is too scant to meet Petitioner’s burden.
Somerville v. MACo Workers' Compensation Trust [06/11/07] 2007 MTWCC 20 Petitioner has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that he is entitled to the benefits he seeks, therefore if the evidence is equally balanced, Petitioner will not have met his burden of proof and will not prevail. In this case, where the Court had doubts as to the credibility of witnesses for both sides but found Respondent’s witnesses slightly more credible, Petitioner has not met his burden of proof.

Benhart v. Liberty Northwest [01/05/07] 2007 MTWCC 3 If a claimant receiving TTD benefits contends that he is entitled to PTD benefits, the insurer bears the burden of proving that it has met the requirements of § 39-71-609(2)(c), MCA, in order to demonstrate that the claimant is not entitled to PTD benefits. Weisgerber v. American Home Assurance Co., 2005 MTWCC 8, ¶ 32. Where Respondent has submitted no approved job analyses, it has not met its burden as it has failed to prove that any job exists which Petitioner would have been capable of performing.

Peters v. State Fund [6/29/04] 2004 MTWCC 52 A claimant must show more than a mere possibility that an industrial accident occurred.
Cuellar v. Vanliner Ins. Co. [6/24/04] 2004 MTWCC 51 The claimant has the burden of proving a causal connection between the industrial accident and the medical condition for which compensation is sought.
Thompson v. Liberty NW Ins. Corp. [2/25/04] 2004 MTWCC 16 A claimant who disputes the impairment rating and maximum medical improvement finding of his own treating physician bears the burden of persuading the Court that some other impairment rating and or MMI date are more accurate. Where claimant failed to present any medical opinions contrary to those of his treating physician, he failed to carry his burden and the Court must adopt the treating physician's findings.
Oswald v. Horizon CMS Healthcare Corp. [3/10/03] 2003 MTWCC 19 Claimant must not prove with certainty that her condition was caused by a work-related incident or eliminate all other possible causes, she need only prove that a work-related incident is more likely than not the cause of her condition.
Walker v. Great West Casualty [1/25/02] 2002 MTWCC 4 The claimant has the burden of proving that his medical condition is related to his industrial accident.
ERD/UEF v. Total Mechanical Heating [11/17/00] 2000 MTWCC 71 Evaluation of one item of evidence does not amount to shifting the burden of proof where the ultimate burden is not shifted.
Garcia v. Uninsured Employers' Fund [6/16/98] 1998 MTWCC 53. Where an uninsured employer files a petition in the WCC to challenge the UEF's determination that a claimant is entitled to benefits and that it must reimburse the UEF, the action is in the nature of an action for declaratory judgment and the burden of proof is properly with the UEF, which would have that burden if it sought to collect reimbursement from petitioner. [Note: Although the WCC decision was affirmed on appeal in Garcia v. Uninsured Employers' Fund, 1999 MT 35N, an unpublished, nonciteable opinion, the Supreme Court did not reach the issue of burden of proof.]