from the District Court of Mountrail County, North Central
Judicial District, the Honorable Richard L. Hagar, Judge.
Stephen D. Little, Bismarck, N.D., for appellant.
Brayden K. Harwood, Special Assistant Attorney General,
Fargo, N.D., for appellee.
1] Nicholas Lechner appeals from a judgment affirming an
administrative order sustaining a Workforce Safety and
Insurance ("WSI") order denying his claim for
workers' compensation benefits. Lechner argues he proved
by the greater weight of the evidence that he suffered a
compensable injury and that his claim was timely. We affirm,
concluding the administrative law judge's finding that
Lechner failed to file a timely claim for benefits is
supported by a preponderance of the evidence.
2] On May 5, 2016, Lechner filed a claim with WSI for
workers' compensation benefits. Lechner alleged he was
injured at work on December 5, 2013. He claimed he was locked
in a small room without a functioning heater, it was thirty
degrees below zero outside, and he "screamed and banged
for help for hours" before someone let him out of the
room. He alleged he "had a panic attack and was
traumatized with severe anxiety, sleep disorders, and left
unable to function normally."
3] On June 24, 2016, WSI sent Lechner notice it was denying
his claim for benefits. The letter stated Lechner's claim
was denied because he did not file a claim within one year
after the date of the injury.
4] Lechner requested reconsideration. In August 2016, WSI
denied Lechner's claim. WSI found he did not allege a
physical injury and there were no medical records indicating
that he suffered any physical injuries. WSI found the
evidence indicated Lechner suffered a mental injury arising
out of a mental stimulus, he sought counseling because of
anxiety related to work, and he should have reasonably known
that the condition was work-related at that time. WSI
concluded Lechner suffered a mental injury arising from a
mental stimulus which was not a compensable injury and his
claim was not timely.
5] Lechner appealed WSI's order. After a June 2017
hearing before an independent administrative law judge
("ALJ"), the ALJ affirmed WSI's order denying
Lechner benefits. The ALJ found the greater weight of the
evidence indicates Lechner may have sustained a mental injury
which arose out of a mental stimulus and Lechner did not
prove that he sustained a compensable injury or that he
sustained a physical injury. The ALJ found none of the
medical records introduced at the hearing indicated that
Lechner reported, prior to February 2017, that he had
sustained a physical injury during the December 5, 2013, work
incident; that Lechner failed to establish he sustained a
concussion or other head injury as a result of the work
injury on December 5, 2013; and that he failed to establish
his current psychological condition was caused by a physical
injury. The ALJ also found the claim was not timely filed,
Lechner's 29-month delay in filing for benefits was not
reasonable, Lechner should reasonably have known that he
suffered a work-related injury well before he filed his claim
in May 2016, and Lechner's failure to disclose the
alleged injury was the only reason for the delay in his
6] Lechner petitioned for reconsideration, arguing he was
first diagnosed with a concussion and post-concussion
syndrome in February 2017, the concussion is a physical
injury, the post-concussion syndrome is a mental injury
caused by the physical injury, and he did not know his
symptoms were attributable to a concussion until he was
diagnosed with a concussion. The ALJ affirmed its prior
7] Lechner appealed the ALJ's order to the district
court. The court affirmed the ALJ's decision.
8] Lechner argues the ALJ erred in affirming WSI's order
denying his claim for benefits. He contends he is entitled to
workers' compensation benefits because he sustained a
compensable injury and he filed his claim in a timely manner.
He claims he received a concussion during the December 5,
2013, work incident and he suffers from memory loss, post
traumatic stress disorder, and sleep disturbance, all of
which are related to his concussion. He contends his injury
is compensable because the concussion is a physical ...