In a recent convention hosted by the Montana Trial Lawyers Association (MTLA), Matt Murphy spoke (on his birthday, we might add!) in an online presentation about his thoughts on workers’ compensation law in the state of Montana.
Tom Murphy (Matt’s father and the founder of Murphy Law Firm) moderated the panel Matt spoke on. He introduced his son by saying, “Matt’s been practicing injury law since 2012 with an emphasis on workers’ compensation. Matt’s a true believer in the cause, and his work reflects that conviction.”
What is the MTLA?
The MTLA was established on the belief that all Montana lawyers should be equipped with the knowledge and strategies of a good lawyer. MTLA is committed to furthering the training and education of those legal professionals to “promote the administration of justice for the public good and upholding the honor and dignity of the profession of the law.”
By encouraging cooperation through conferences and seminars that allow members to learn from each other, MTLA hopes this will improve the adversary system and trial by jury in any way possible.
Matt Murphy’s take on workers’ compensation
Starting off, Matt reminded the attendees that Montana’s Workers’ Compensation Act applies to all businesses with only a few exceptions. He also noted the remedies available will be their exclusive remedy and that while third-party recoveries aren’t common occurrences, he advised lawyers to be thorough because they could increase clients’ recoveries.
Matt stated that “an injury is defined as harm that’s identifiable by time, place and body part and caused by a specific event during a single work shift regardless of how long that work shift is,” versus an occupational disease which is “defined as harm occurring on more than a single day or work shift.”
COVID-19 and workers’ compensation
Whether or not COVID-19 can be considered an occupational disease or single injury is a complicated question that work injury lawyers in many states are asking.
After researching the topic, Matt noted that in Montana it’s currently considered a “single exposure, which will qualify it as an injury, which puts the burden on the employee to determine which shift that they contracted the virus.”
Workers’ comp statute of limitations
Matt called attention to the time period within which employees must bring their injury or occupational disease claims to the attention of their employer. Workers have 1 year from the date of injury (or 1 year from the day they should’ve known they contracted the disease) to present their claims in writing to their employer.
Workers have 2 years to file any disputes over their workers’ compensation before the court, with few exceptions.
Types of workers’ comp benefits
Montana’s Workers’ Comp Act covers medical and wage loss, also known as indemnity benefits. When medical benefits terminate is also a hot topic in the world of workers’ compensation.
“For claims after 1991 but before July 1st of 2011, medical benefits terminate when they’re not used for a period of 60 months or 5 years.”
Injured workers who make a claim after July 1, 2011 will have their benefits terminated after a 5-year period with only a few exceptions, such as the care and upkeep of a prosthetic.
Matt ended the conference with a Q&A and encouraged participants to contact him with further questions about workers’ compensation laws.
Proud members of MTLA
As born and bred Montana lawyers, Murphy Law Firm believes that our participation in MTLA has helped us better serve our clients because we share their philosophy and recognize the importance of always learning something new and honing the knowledge we’ve already acquired.