Minnesota has a long history of protecting workers. In fact, Minnesota and New York were the first states to adopt “occupational disease presumptions” into the law. Prior to the adoption of these presumptions of causation, an injured party had the burden of proving that the injury or disease arose out of the course and scope of his or her employment.
At first glance, it makes sense to require the injured party to “connect the dots” between the injury or condition and the activities he or she performed as a part of the job; however, as a practical matter, this requirement precluded injured workers from obtaining a remedy under the Workers’ Compensation Act. For example, if a worker contracted lung cancer from his contact with dangerous work-place fumes, proving that the fumes he was exposed to at work caused the cancer would be difficult, if not impossible. Causation is difficult in these cases because the cancer could have been caused by many different things, such as a genetic predisposition or exposure to cigarette smoke, and doctors are unable (or unwilling) to state to a reasonable degree of medical certainty what the “true” cause of the condition is.