How to Apply for Montana Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Important: We updated this article in July 2023; therefore, all the information below is current and correct. Did you get hurt or sick on the job in Big Sky Country? Here’s the information you need to get the Montana workers’ compensation benefits you deserve.

Who Gets Montana Workers’ Compensation Coverage?

State law requires Montana workers’ compensation coverage for nearly all employees. 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:

  • Amateur sports officials (i.e., referees, umpires, announcers, timers, judges)
  • Professional athletes
  • Church ministers as well as other religious leaders
  • Commission-only salespeople working in real estate, insurance, or securities jobs
  • Domestic employees working for a household (i.e., housekeepers, yard workers)
  • Door-to-door salespeople
  • Freelance writers paid by the written submission
  • Horse-racing employees and licensed jockeys
  • Licensed barbers or cosmetologists employed in contract-only positions for cosmetology firms
  • Officers or managers of private or non-profit water-related business entities (i.e., irrigation companies)
  • Professional athletes
  • Sole proprietors, LLC members, corporate officers, partners and their immediate family members
  • 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

Pro Tip: Federal employees aren’t covered by Montana workers’ comp. Get the details for filing a federal claim here.

Read more about how to qualify for workers’ comp.

The following people are generally exempt from Montana workers’ compensation coverage:

  • Certain independent contractors (i.e., those that maintain a separate business and/or employ other workers)
  • Federal employees
  • Workers with injuries that are either self-inflicted or arise from willful misconduct

Should I Hire a Montana Workers’ Comp Lawyer?

According to state law, your employer can:

  • Deny your claim if you don’t attend an independent medical exam with their preferred doctor
  • Deny your claim under certain situations, like if you test positive for drug or alcohol use immediately after your workplace accident
  • Not provide you with health insurance during your recovery

This puts you at a disadvantage when filing a claim. Hiring an experienced Montana workers’ compensation attorney can help you get the care and benefits you deserve.

Pro Tip: Learn how to tell if you need a workers’ comp lawyer.

How Does the Claims Process Work?

Pro Tip: See a nurse or doctor immediately if you need emergency or urgent care. Be sure to tell them your condition is work-related and keep your receipts and bills.

Every case is different, so your specific experience may vary. However, the Montana workers’ compensation claims process usually works like this:

1. Report your work injury or illness in writing to your supervisor or employer.

Describe the accident that injured you or caused your illness, Include the time, date, place, other details, and any witnesses who saw it happen.

Pro Tip: You must report either a workplace injury or work-related disease or illness within 30 days. If you miss these deadlines, then you may not qualify for Montana workers’ comp.

2. Choose the first doctor to treat you and get care.

However, if your employer’s insurance company accepts your claim, they can choose a different doctor.

Pro Tip: If you have any pre-existing health conditions, you may want to consult a Montana workers’ compensation attorney.

3. Fill out, sign and submit a First Report of Injury Form within 12 months of your accident or illness date.

This officially starts the Montana workers’ compensation claim process. You can file this form with your employer, their insurance provider, or the Montana Department of Labor & Industry (DLI). Your employer’s insurer must either approve or deny your claim within 30 days.

4. Verify you get paid time off to recover.

If approved, you may qualify for lost-wage payments if you miss more than four days of work. Until you’ve missed 21 total days, those first four are considered unpaid time off under Montana workers’ compensation law. Your employer must make your first payment for lost wages within 14 days.

5. Take action if they deny your claim.

Contact the Department of Labor & Industry no more than two years after your denial. The Montana DLI will schedule a mediation conference by phone. Read more about the resolution process here.

To learn more, read the Workers’ Compensation FAQs on the DLI website.

What Else Should I Know About Montana Workers’ Compensation?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics analyzes workers’ comp data on most U.S. states and territories. Claims activity in the Treasure State declined steadily since 2017. The total number of recordable cases dropped from 15,00 in 2017 to 12,100 in 2021, including a big dip from 13,700 in 2019.

The number of claims reported in the service sector — and the total number of employees missing work, changing jobs, or receiving restrictions — also fell over the five years. Both metrics ticked up slightly in 2021, likely driven by the return to work.

Can I Get Free Expert Help With My Montana Workers’ Compensation Claim?

When you’re dealing with a work-related illness or injury, navigating the Montana workers’ compensation system can make your discomfort and frustration even worse.

A skilled lawyer can help you get maximum benefits faster. They’ll do a free, confidential claim evaluation. If they take your case, they can negotiate with insurers, gather medical evidence to support your claim and represent you at hearings.

If you don’t win, then you pay your attorney $0. But if you’re successful, then you only pay one reasonable fee.

Ready to see if you qualify? Click the button below to sign up for a free phone call during regular weekday business hours:

Get Your Free Benefits Evaluation

Margot Lester is the CEO of The Word Factory, a B2B & B2C content marketing agency that provides services for Fortune 100 brands, healthtech companies and SaaS developers. An award-winning business and brand journalist, she writes for daily and weekly newspapers and business journals, national magazines, in-flight publications and leading websites. Margot is also an in-demand writing coach and organizational communications trainer, helping individuals and teams write more effectively. Twitter/X: @word_factory LinkedIn: