39-71-1011, MCA

[1997] Beyl v. Liberty Northwest Ins. Corp. [12/21/00] 2000 MTWCC 75 Section 39-71-711 defines permanent impairment under the Workers' Compensation Act and must be followed in determining whether a worker is a disabled worker within the meaning of rehabilitation provisions, 39-71-1011(2) (1997).

[1995] Kapor v. Liberty Mutual [3/14/03] 2003 MTWCC 22 Impairment" is a term of art connected to impairment ratings and the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Impairment. 39-71-703(1) and -711, MCA (1995). Where a claimant is rated with a zero (0%) impairment, the claimant does not have a "permanent impairment" within the meaning of section 39-71-1011(2), MCA (1995), and is not eligible for rehabilitation benefits.

[1995] Caplette v. Reliance National Indemnity Co. [10/1/98] 1998 MTWCC 69 Under section 39-71-1011(2), MCA (1995), claimant is entitled to further rehabilitation benefits only if he proves an actual wage loss as the result of the injury. Claimant has not proved wage loss as the result of his injury where he earned a slightly lower wage post-injury because he chose to take a lower-paying job because it was scheduled to last longer and was closer to home. Moreover, his higher paying pre-injury job (a Davis-Bacon construction job) was only a short term job and he has not proven the injury caused him to lose the opportunity to work on such jobs. Although claimant now has a medium-duty restriction, he has not proved an actual loss of ability to find work as a heavy equipment operator at the same wage rate as the result of that restriction.

[1987] Rich v. State Compensation Ins. Fund [12/20/95] 1995 MTWCC 108 Section 39-71-1011, MCA (1987), et seq., requires rehabilitation services for disabled workers, including a rehabilitation panel designed by the DOL, and DOL hearing procedures, with the right of appeal of the DOL determination to the WCC. Where the rehabilitation procedures were invoked, and are still pending, claimant may not circumvent those procedures by filing a permanent total disability petition in the WCC.