39-71-739, MCA

[1999] Woodworth v. Liberty NW Ins. Co. [4/16/04] 2004 MTWCC 35 Pursuant to section 39-71-703(5)(c), MCA (1999), wage loss for purposes of permanent partial disability benefits must be determined at the time the claimant reaches maximum medical improvement. If he returns to work at that time, and the insurer offers no evidence that his actual wage upon return to work is less than he is capable of earning, wage loss should be measured by the difference between his average weekly wage at the time of his injury and his average wage for the four pay periods immediately following his reaching maximum medical improvement and return to work. See 39-71-123(3), MCA (1999). In the event that the claimant's disability thereafter increases and he suffers a further wage loss, then his benefits must be recomputed based on the additional wage loss. 39-71-739, MCA (1979-2003).