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The basics of filing a workers' compensation claim in Montana

Montana law requires that most employers carry workers' compensation insurance. When an employee is injured on the job, they are generally entitled to collect workers' compensation benefits. Readers who are dealing with a work-related injury or illness may be interested in this overview of the claim process and the available benefits.

The first step in the process is to report the injury or illness to your employer. This should be done as quickly as possible. An injury must be reported within 30 days. In addition, the employee must fill out and sign a First Report of Injury form and give it to the employer. The FROI can also be submitted to the Montana Department of Labor & Industry or the insurance carrier. The FROI must be submitted within 12 months of the date of the injury. For an occupational disease claim, the FROI must be submitted within 12 months of the date the employee was aware, or had sufficient information to make them aware, that their condition is due to an occupational disease.

Once the report is made, the Montana State Fund will either approve or deny the claim. If it is approved, the employee is entitled to compensation for medical expenses including hospital and doctor bills and prescriptions. The MSI pays he providers pursuant to a fee schedule set forth in Montana law. The providers are generally required to accept what the MSI pays and the employee is not required to pay anything out of pocket. Medical benefits are paid for a maximum of five years.

In addition to medical expenses, the injured or sick employee may also be entitled to wage loss benefits. These are paid once a treating doctor confirms the employee needs time off work or reassignment to light duties. There are several different types of wage loss benefits available, according to whether the employee will be able to return to their previous duties and whether they can work at light duties on a temporary basis. In some cases, vocational rehabilitation benefits may also be available.

Source: Montana State Fund, "Your Workers' Compensation Benefits," accessed Aug. 4, 2014

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