39-71-608, MCA


[1991] Haag v. School Dist. No. 1, Great Falls Pub. Schs., 274 Mont. 109, 906 P.2d 693 (1995) Section 39-71-608, MCA (1991) authorizes an insurer to begin paying benefits within thirty days of receipt of a claim for compensation without admitting liability or waiving any defenses. This statute recognizes that situations may arise in which an insurer should not, in fairness, be forced to irrevocably accept or deny a claim within thirty days as required by section 39-71-606(1), MCA. Importantly, however, section 39-71-608, MCA, contains the same thirty-day period for the insurer’s action as section 39-71-606(1), MCA. Thus, section 39-71-608, MCA does not merely provide an alternative for an insurer faced with the dilemma of complying with its statutory mandate to accept or deny a claim within thirty days. Read together with section 39-71-606(1), MCA, it reemphasizes the legislature’s intent to require an insurer to take action on a claim for compensation, and give notice thereof to the claimant, within thirty days.


Clapham v. Twin City [08/01/12] 2012 MTWCC 27 Section 39-71-606(5), MCA, which specifically limits the remedies available for noncompliance with the statute to attorney fees and a penalty, likewise applies to claims placed under § 39-71-608, MCA. It would be absurd to hold an insurer who invokes § 39-71-608, MCA, potentially liable for automatic acceptance of the claim while an insurer who simply denies the claim would not face the possibility of this action.

Schoeneman v. Liberty, 2007 MTWCC 28 The public policy of the WCA is to provide benefits to injured workers at a reasonable cost to employers, and wage-loss benefits should bear a reasonable relationship to actual wages lost as a result of a work-related injury. § 39-71-105(1), MCA. Section 39-71-608, MCA, is designed to be advantageous to both injured workers and insurers, as it allows insurers to pay benefits under a reservation of rights, giving insurers ample time to investigate the merits of a claim without unduly delaying an injured worker’s receipt of benefits. Sections 39-71-608, -609, and -701, MCA, contemplate a claimant who is employable in the sense that a job exists which the claimant is physically and vocationally qualified to perform.