In Wisconsin, a work related injury is a necessary element of a workers compensation claim. The injury is either physical or mental harm caused by a traumatic accident or an occupational disease. Wis. Stats. Sec 102.01(2)(c).
A traumatic injury is an accidental injury that results from a definite mishap. Yellow Cab Co. v. Industrial Comm., 210 Wis. 460, 246 N. W. 689 (1933). An accident has been defined as “a fortuitous event, unexpected and unforeseen by the injured person.” John H. Kaiser Lumber Co. v. Indus. Comm’n, 181 Wis. 513, 513 , 195 N.W. 329 (1923) . This definition is satisfied “either if the cause was of an accidental character or if the effect was the unexpected result of routine performance of the claimant’s duties.” Sch. Dist. No. 1 v. DILHR, 62 Wis. 2d 370, 375 , 215 N.W.2d 373 (1974).
An occupational injury is a disease acquired as a result of work in the employment over an appreciable period of time. Marathon P. M. Co. v. Industrial Comm. 203 Wis. 17, 233 N. W. 558 (1930).
The difference between an occupational disease and an affliction resulting from an accident is illustrated in hernia cases. Where hernia follows as a result of a definite accident the employee suffers an accidental hernia, … but where it develops as the result of certain types of lifting for a number of years, the employee may have an occupational hernia … .
Rathjen v. Industrial Com., 233 Wis. 452, 289 N.W. 618 (1940).
An occupational disease is mental or physical harm that results from job duties or environment but is not so sudden or traumatic as to fit within the definition of an accident. While a work exposure as short as one day has been held legally sufficient the longer the job duties or exposure, the more likely the disease will be found work related.
In Shelby Mutual Insurance Co. v. DILHR, 109 Wis. 2d 655, 327 N.W.2d 178 (Ct. App. 1982), the concept of occupational disease was broadened to include a series of work-related accidental back injuries that had occurred over many years. The employee’s disability had not been medically apportioned among the injuries, and the insurer that was on the risk on the injured employee’s last day of work was found responsible for the entire disability.
McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin attorneys get the best workers compensation results where we have evidence of a traumatic or occupational job duties injury.