Every state has its own laws in place regarding how to apply and qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. If you get hurt or sick while doing your job in Montana, we’ll explain the steps for filing your claim. In addition, we’ll review the most recent five years of data available for the Montana workers’ compensation program.
Which Employees Automatically Have Montana Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
State law requires Montana workers’ compensation coverage for nearly all employees statewide. This includes all full-time, part-time, seasonal and occasional employees starting on their first day at work. However, there’s a lengthy list of people the state exempts from this required Montana workers’ compensation coverage, including:
- Professional athletes
- Amateur sports officials (i.e., referees, umpires, announcers, timers, judges)
- Freelance writers paid by the written submission
- Domestic employees working for a household (i.e., housekeepers, yard workers)
- Commission-only salespeople working in real estate, insurance or securities jobs
- Licensed barbers or cosmetologists employed in contract-only positions for cosmetology firms
- Church ministers as well as other religious leaders
- Truck drivers and others working for intrastate or interstate freight or transportation companies
- Volunteers and those working for sustenance, shelter or providing respite care for disabled persons
- Horse-racing employees and licensed jockeys
- Door-to-door salespeople
- Officers or managers of private or non-profit water-related business entities (i.e., irrigation companies)
- Sole proprietors, LLC members, corporate officers, partners and their immediate family members
Does Covid-19 Qualify for Workers’ Comp Benefits?
Unfortunately, for most workers, the answer is no. Only healthcare workers, first responders and essential food supply workers can file valid claims for benefits under existing state law. That’s because you must demonstrate that your job puts you at significantly higher risk for coronavirus exposure than anywhere else.
How to Apply for Montana Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Follow these steps to apply for Montana workers’ compensation benefits:
- Report your injury to your supervisor within 30 days of your accident date. Miss this deadline and you may not qualify for Montana workers’ compensation benefits. To do this, write down the date, time, location and details explaining how your injury occurred. You have one year to notify your employer if it’s an occupational disease.
- You can choose the first doctor that treats your injury. This includes seeking emergency medical attention, if needed. However, if your employer’s insurance company accepts your claim, they have the right to designate a different physician.
- Fill out and sign a First Report of Injury Form to submit within 12 months from your accident date. This officially starts your Montana workers’ compensation claim for benefits. You can file this form with your employer, their insurance provider or the Montana Department of Labor & Industry (DLI).
- After filing your FROI, your employer’s insurer must approve or deny your claim within 30 days.
- If approved, you must miss more than four days at work before you can qualify for lost wage payments. Your employer must make your first Montana workers’ compensation payment for lost wages within 14 days. Those first four days are considered unpaid time off under state law. However, once you miss 21 days total at work, you’ll get paid for taking those first four days off.
- To appeal a denied claim, you have two years to request mediation and resolve your dispute. The Montana DLI will schedule your mediation conference, which happens over the phone.
Every Montana workers’ compensation claim is different, so your own experience may vary. To learn more, read this Workers’ Compensation FAQs on the DLI website.
Montana Workers’ Compensation Statistics, 2014-2018
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases a workers’ compensation report every year with program data from most states. The report includes total claims filed, how many employees either missed work or received restrictions, and the occupational field linked to each request for benefits. Our interactive chart below shows how the Montana workers’ compensation program changed from 2014 to 2018:
Just 1.5% of all Montanans applied for workers’ comp benefits during this five-year period. Of those, the largest number of claims came from service-industry workers. In fact, that employment sector files 63%-68% of Montana workers’ compensation claims in any given year. However, it’s encouraging to see that total claims fell about 8.4% from 2014 to 2018. Each year less than half the workplace injuries reported in Montana are serious enough to need time off. That means most people applying for Montana workers’ compensation only get their medical expenses covered, not lost wages.
Related: Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Benefits: How to Apply
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
Montana workers’ compensation law says your employer has the right to deny you benefits in certain situations. Testing positive for drugs or alcohol immediately after your accident is one reason. In addition, state law says your employer doesn’t have to provide health insurance while you recover. What’s more, your employer can deny your claim if you don’t attend an independent medical exam with their preferred doctor. With so little control over your own medical treatment and health insurance, you may need professional legal assistance.
Why not sign up for a phone call from a Montana workers’ compensation attorney to get free claim advice? State law puts your employer in control of what happens to you after a workplace accident. Another good reason to talk to a lawyer about your claim: Was a coworker involved? If so, state law says you have the right to sue anyone else who’s potentially responsible for your injury. All workers’ comp attorneys work on contingency. That means you pay the lawyer $0 if you don’t win a cash settlement. And if you do win, you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now!
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Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.