Claims: Notice to Employer or Insurer: Generally

Siebken v. Liberty [11/27/07] 2007 MTWCC 48 The purpose of the notice requirement is to enable the employer to protect itself by prompt investigation of the claimed accident and prompt treatment of the injury with a view toward minimizing its effects by proper medical care. Bender v. Roundup Mining Co., 138 Mont. 306, 313, 356 P.2d 469, 473 (1960). In the present case, Petitioner reported a work-related altercation to his employer within 30 days and did not know at the time that he suffered an injury. However, Petitioner waited more than 30 days after he learned he was injured to file a claim for compensation. This claim for compensation does not fulfill the notice requirement of this statute.
Alsbury v. State Fund [2/9/01] 2001 MTWCC 8 Failure to give notice of industrial accident to employer or employer's supervisor, as required by section 39-71-603, MCA, bars workers' compensation claim.
Baxter v. UEF [9/20/00] 2000 MTWCC 65 Accident Information Sheet completed by injured worker when seeking medical care immediately following injury and forwarded to employer contained adequate information under section 39-71-601, MCA (1995) and its submission to employer satisfied statutory requirement that claim be "presented in writing to the employer, the insurer, or the department, as the case may be." Court refuses to read into statute any requirement that employee present claim to department rather than employer in cases where employer is not insured.
Baker v. State Fund [6/15/00] 2000 MTWCC 35 Where claimant's testimony was contradicted by other witnesses and logs kept in employment, and claimant himself was not a credible witness, he failed to convince the WCC he had reported a work injury to the employer.
Davis v. State Fund [6/9/00] 2000 MTWCC 34 Insurer denied claim on ground that owner-operator, who was himself covered under WC policy, failed to notify insurer of injury within 30 days, as required by 39-71-603(2), MCA (1997). Where insurer had for several years undertaken to provide policy-holders notice of important statutory changes and coverage requirements, but did not provide notice that a covered "owner" must inform insurer, not just employer, within 30 days of injury, insurer was equitably estopped from asserting limitations period.
Mametieff v. Liberty Northwest Ins. Corp. [7/14/99] 1999 MTWCC 40. Claimant's inquiry to supervisor about whether employer had "compensation," which supervisor reasonably understood as inquiring about medical benefits, was not sufficient to give notice within section 39-71-603, MCA (1997). Claimant did not prove, in any event, that the inquiry came within thirty days of her accident. Absent evidence the employer discouraged claim filing, claimant's subjective concern that reporting an injury would jeopardize her employment does not justify ignoring the thirty day notice requirement.

McGuin v. State Compensation Insurance Fund [12/16/99] 1999 MTWCC 82 Claimant who did not realize until years later that incident occurring during 1986 diving training resulted in serious ear problems was not barred by his failure to give notice to his employer within 60 days of the incident. Section 39-71-603, MCA requires a claimant only to disclose what he knows, it does not require the impossible. Because he was unaware of his condition or that it arose during the work incident, he properly gave notice within 60 days of his diagnosis.

LaPlante v. Town Pump, Incorporated [1/26/99] 1999 MTWCC 8 WCC credited Town Pump supervisors who testified claimant, a merchandise stocker, did not report a work injury to them and that they had no knowledge of the alleged injury until well past the 30 day reporting period under section 39-71-603, MCA (1989). The Court did not credit a co-employee who claimed she had been a supervisor and was told of the accident. The credible evidence indicated the co-employee may have had lead cashier duties, but had no supervisory responsibility for claimant, who was a merchandise stocker. Notice to a co-employee is insufficient; notice must be given to the employer or the employer's managing agent or supervisor in charge of the employee's work, or one of them must have knowledge of the accident.
Ronemus v. Business Ins. Co. [7/28/98] 1998 MTWCC 59 WCC found claimant did in fact tell his supervisor about shoulder injury within 30 days. Although the matter arose in the context of discussing some weekend volunteer work claimant might do, and both claimant and the supervisor did not consider the injury serious, it was nonetheless reported. Notice as to the time and place of the injury was inherent in claimant's statement to the supervisor. Because claimant was working at one construction project, there could be no misunderstanding as to the place of injury. From the context of the conversation, and the lack of claimant's prior complaints of injury or pain, the conversation also provided a plain indication that claimant was indicated that day. There is no requirement in the statute that claimant provide an exact minute or hour of his injury.
Good v. State Fund [7/16/97] 1997 MTWCC 44 Lead welder's claim for back injury denied where WCC found he did not report the injury within 30 days. Employer had clear practice regarding reporting of injuries which claimant had previously followed. Employees to whom claimant should have reported injury credibly testified they did not receive notice. While claimant's wife testified she told employer's secretary claimant hurt his back at work, the secretary credibly denied receiving that information. Moreover, this is not a case in which a co-employee may be deemed an employer's supervisor or agent under a doctrine of ostensible authority. Ostensible agency is established "when the principal intentionally or by want of ordinary care causes a third person to believe another to be an agent." Larsen v. Barry Smith Logging, Inc., 267 Mont. 444, 447, 884 P.2d 786, 788 (1994). Here, claimant acknowledged that the secretary was not one of the people to whom he could report an injury.
Smith v. National Union Fire Ins. Co. [10/15/96] 1996 MTWCC 65 A claimant's failure to provide 30 days notice to an employer is a defense to liability. Haag v. Montana Schools Group Ins. Authority, 274 Mont. 109, 906 P.2d 693 (1995) precludes the insurer from raising any defense, including this one, if the claim was not accepted or denied within 30 days as required by section 390-71-606(1), MCA (1991).