Benefits: Death Benefits: Offset for Prior Settlement

W.R. Grace & Co. and Transportation Ins. Co. v. Riley [3/23/98] 1998 MTWCC 26 Under section 39-72-701, MCA (1985), previously interpreted by this Court in Manweiler v. The Travelers Ins. Co., WCC No. 9511-7445 (6/6/96), the amount and duration of death benefits under the Occupational Disease Act is governed by the death benefits provisions of the Workers' Compensation Act, including section 39-71-721, MCA (1985), which states that where an injured or diseased worker subsequently dies, the beneficiary "is entitled to the same compensation as though the death occurred immediately following the injury, but the period during which the death benefits is paid shall be reduced by the period during or for which compensation was paid for the injury." As previously held in Manweiler, the insurer is entitled to a credit for any portion of settlement monies paid to decedent which are attributable to periods of time after decedent's death. The fact that decedent herein had entered into a full and final compromise, not merely a lump-sum advance, is not material. Because decedent died 163.42 weeks after the settlement, section 39-71-721(1), MCA (1985) requires that the portion of the settlement remaining after 163.42 of biweekly benefits must be offset against future death benefits payable to the widow.

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. If any amount of monies already paid as the result of the occupational disease are attributable to periods of time after decedentís death, the insurer would be entitled to a credit for such monies pursuant to section 39-72-711, MCA (1985).