BONEY, Chief Justice.
The appellant, Ernest S. Beauchamp, seeks a reversal of a judgment of the superior court setting aside a compensation order of the Workmen's Compensation Board. There is no real disagreement as to the facts of this case. Rather, the dispute here is over what conclusions may properly be drawn from the facts. Appellant was employed by the State of Alaska as a state trooper at all times relevant to this appeal. On April 15, 1967, while Beauchamp was on duty at Kotzebue, he was forced to make an arrest, and became involved in an altercation that lasted for about 30 minutes. Beauchamp developed pains in his back and neck following the altercation.
No attempt to seek professional treatment was made. Appellant treated himself with warm water soaks, exercises, and rubdowns, and his pain subsided within about a week to ten days. Beauchamp was subsequently transferred to Anchorage where he experienced no more pain until December of 1967. At that time, he developed pain and discomfort in his left arm and neck. Again, on February 15, 1968, Beauchamp experienced pain in his arm, accompanied by numbness in his fingertips while
The pains, numbness and subsequent operation led Beauchamp to file a claim with the Workmen's Compensation Board. Two hearings were held. Beauchamp testified on January 6, 1969, and Dr. Mead testified at a second hearing on January 9, 1969. No other testimony was presented. In a decision dated February 20, 1969, the Board found in favor of Beauchamp, and awarded $400 as compensation for temporary total disability and $1,700 for permanent partial disability.
Employers Liability Assurance Corporation, the appellees here, appealed the decision of the Board to the superior court. In a brief Judgment on Appeal dated May 8, 1969, the superior court reversed.
Beauchamp asserts the superior court erred in finding there is no substantial evidence in the record to support the Board's findings and award. Our review is limited to a determination of whether the Board's findings are supported by substantial evidence in light of the record as a whole, that is, such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.
In this case the record consists of the testimony of Beauchamp, the testimony of Dr. Mead, and two medical reports of Dr. Mead. Beauchamp testified at the earlier of the two hearings; he indicated the pain he suffered following the April 1967 altercation was not general but localized in the neck and back area.
Appellees contend that in the absence of clear medical evidence showing causation, there is no substantial evidence in the record to support the Board's findings and award. We cannot accede to such a contention.
It is obvious from the Board's findings of fact that consideration and weight was given to the medical evidence.
Causation is not a matter lying exclusively within the field of medical science, particularly where, as in the present case, the expert witness, Dr. Mead, lacked knowledge of relevant evidence known to the Board. Beauchamp's lay testimony concerning the incidents surrounding his disability was a substantial part of the evidence in the record. His testimony was uncontradicted by the appellees. The Board was entitled to draw whatever reasonable inferences Beauchamp's unchallenged testimony, combined with other evidence in the record, would support.
In determining causation, exact medical certainty is not required. A reasonable probability will suffice.
In addition, this court has held that in the absence of substantial evidence to the contrary, the Workmen's Compensation Act creates a presumption that a claim for compensation comes within the provisions of the statute.
We find that the testimony of Beauchamp concerning the incidents surrounding his disability when coupled with the testimony of Dr. Mead supports the Board's conclusion that Beauchamp suffered an aggravation of a pre-existing condition. As this court has repeatedly held, a claimant is entitled to compensation if any of the incidents of his employment aggravated, accelerated, or combined with his disease or infirmity to produce disability.
On review, the court may not weigh the evidence or choose between competing inferences reasonably possible from the evidence.
Accordingly the judgment of the superior court is reversed, and the matter remanded to the superior court with directions to enter an order reinstating the decision of the Workmen's Compensation Board.
A review of the Alaska Workmen's Compensation Board record on this matter discloses that the Board's decision is not based upon evidence showing a causal connection between the condition suffered by the applicant and his employment as a State Trooper. The Doctor categorically indicated in his testimony that he did not know why the condition flared up; that it may have been inflammatory, not necessarily that of injury or use; and to say that he correlates the condition to an altercation occurring during the applicant's employment, as against his playing football many years earlier, he would have to base his answer on speculation. The Doctor further stated unequivocally that the applicant's condition was not aggravated by the April 1967 episode.
I therefore find, there is not sufficient evidence to support the Board's findings and award, and * * *.
The Professor goes on in § 79.51 at 299-300 to state:
In § 79.53 at 302-303 the reasons for the rule are stated: