Benefits: Death Benefits [Generally]


Hegg v. Montana State Fund [10/10/16] 2016 MTWCC 14 Under the plain language of § 39-71-721(2), MCA: the “minimum” weekly compensation benefit rate applies when 66 2/3% of the decedent's wage is less than 50% of the state's average weekly wage unless the decedent's actual wages were less than 50% of the state's average weekly wage, in which case the rate is the decedent's actual wages.

Van Vleet v. Montana Assoc. of Counties Workers' Comp. Trust [2/19/04] 2004 MTWCC 8 Death benefits are payable to statutory beneficiaries and not to the estate of the deceased worker. Accordingly, the personal representative of the estate of the deceased worker has no standing to maintain a claim for workers' compensation benefits. Reversed on other grounds in Van Vleet v. Montana Association of Counties Workers' Compensation Trust, 2004 MT 367 (No. 04-206)
Butte v. Ace Ins. [5/29//01] 2001 MTWCC 27 The estate of the deceased worker is not a potential beneficiary of death benefits under section 39-71-721 and therefore has no standing to maintain an action for benefits under that section.
Blowers v. Montana Insurance Guaranty Association [4/25/97] 1997 MTWCC 24 Under Willoughby v. Arthur G. McKee & Co., 187 Mont. 253, 257, 609 P.2d 700, 702 (1980), lump-sum settlements may be granted in cases of outstanding indebtedness or pressing need, or where the best interests of petitioner, her family, and the general public will be served. The best interest component is the "primary criterion." Sullivan. V. Aetna Life & Cas., 271 Mont. 12, 16, 894 P.2d 278, 280 (1995). While the best interests of a claimant are ordinarily served by regular periodic installments, making lump-sums the exception rather than the rule, lump-sum advances are not looked upon with disfavor and will be awarded without hesitancy in appropriate cases. In this case, while the Court has approved the modest advance to which the employer/insurer has already agreed, widow with 11-year old child did not convince the Court that an additional lump-sum is warranted where her income is presently more than her family would be receiving if her husband had not been killed and had continued in his same job and where she has not shown that her present situation is not adequate or that the problems of which she complains would be best served by the requested lump-sum advance.
Manweiler, et al. v. The Travelers Insurance Company [6/6/96] 1996 MTWCC 41 Under the 1985 laws, a claim for death benefits is separate from an occupational disease claimantís own claim for benefits. In particular, section 39-72-403(1), MCA (1985), makes clear that claims for death benefits may, and must, be presented after a decedentís death, providing a separate and distinct claim by death benefit beneficiaries.