Glossary Check: Idaho ‘Medical Probability’

12 Nov, 2023 Frank Ferreri


Boise, ID ( -- Anyone who reads cases or watches a little Court TV has come across the phrase "burden of proof."

In an Idaho workers' compensation case, the burden of proof is on the claimant show that her employment in some way caused the injury. The claimant must support such a causal relationship with "some medical proof" (See Politte v. Department of Transportation, 882 P.2d 437 (Idaho 1994).

To make the connections between the injury, work, and medical proof, Idaho case law requires a claimant to submit proof of causation to a degree of medical probablility.

What is "medical probability" in Idaho?

Definition: In Fowble v. Snoline Express, Inc., 190 P.3d 889 (Idaho 2008), the Idaho Supreme Court defined it as "having more evidence for than against."

According to Hart v. Kaman Bearing & Supply, 939 P.2d 1375 (Idaho 1997), a claimant carries the burden of proof that to a reasonable degree of medical probability the injury for which benefits are claimed is causally related to an accident occurring in the course of employment. Proof of a possible causal link is insufficient to satisfy the burden. Instead, the issue of causation must be proved by expert medical testimony.

Case Example: In Jensen v. City of Pocatello, 18 P.3d 211 (Idaho 2000). Idaho's top court explained that the doctor's testimony on which a court relies to make a "medical probability" determination does not have to use the words "reasonable degree of medical probability. According to the court, "No special verbal formula is necessary when ... a doctor's testimony plainly and unequivocally conveys his conviction that events are causally related."

In the Jesen case, the court held that a doctor's testimony, coupled with the facts, adequately established a causal connection between the worker's taking "Pain-Off" medication from a first-aid cabinet in the workplace and his renal failure when the doctor indicated that he did "not know of anything that would be higher" on his list of speculation for what caused the worker's injury.

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    About The Author

    • Frank Ferreri

      Frank Ferreri, M.A., J.D. covers workers' compensation legal issues. He has published books, articles, and other material on multiple areas of employment, insurance, and disability law. Frank received his master's degree from the University of South Florida and juris doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

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