Impairment: Generally

MONTANA SUPREME COURT DECISIONS
Ruhd v. Liberty Northwest [8/7/02] 2002 MT 290N In an unpublished decision, Supreme Court applies Rausch v. State Compensation Insurance Fund, 2000 MT 203, to hold permanently totally disabled claimant entitled to an impairment award under the 1999 Workers' Compensation Act. Remand to Workers' Compensation Court for determination of proper method of payment and regarding whether this claimant's counsel, or counsel handling the Rausch matter, are entitled to common fund attorneys fees relating to claimants allegedly situated similarly to this claimant.
Rausch et al. v. State Compensation Insurance Fund [9/5/02] 2002 MT 203 Permanently totally disabled claimants are entitled to an impairment award for the loss of physical function of their body occasioned by a work-related injury pursuant to recognition of such awards in §39-71-710, MCA, and §39-71-737, MCA. The award is due upon receipt of an undisputed impairment rating. If the claimant receiving an impairment award is permanently and totally disabled, the impairment award should be characterized as a permanent, total disability benefit.
 
MONTANA WORKERS' COMPENSATION COURT DECISIONS

Baker v. Trans. Ins. Co. [12/21/06] 2006 MTWCC 42 Because an impairment award under pre-1987 law is a partial disability benefit (see Grimshaw v. L. Peter Larson Co., 213 Mont. 291, 691 P.2d 805 (1984), and Fellenberg v. Trans. Ins. Co., 2005 MT 90, 326 Mont. 467, 110 P.3d 464) and Petitioner’s claim seeks an occupational disease impairment award, § 39-72-703, MCA (1985), prohibits Petitioner from receiving an impairment award.

Kapor v. Liberty Mutual [3/14/03] 2003 MTWCC 22 "Impairment" is a term of art connected to impairment ratings and the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Impairment. 39-71-703(1) and -711, MCA (1995). Where a claimant is rated with a zero (0%) impairment, the claimant does not have a "permanent impairment" within the meaning of section 39-71-1011(2), MCA (1995), and is not eligible for rehabilitation benefits.
Nielson v. State Fund [9/20/00] 2000 MTWCC 64 Under the 1993 version of the WCA, PPD claimant failed to prove that, after MMI, he had a medically determined physical restriction as the result of an injury which impaired his ability to work (39-71-116(19), MCA). Having found claimant's subjective reports of pain not credible, the Court was not persuaded by expert opinions relying on those subjective reports, but credited other experts finding claimant's reports of disability without objective basis and refusing to place physical restrictions on claimant. Note: In Nielson v. State Compensation Ins. Fund, 2003 MT 95, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding substantial evidence did not support the WCC's conclusion that claimant was not permanently, partially disabled.
Sharp v. Montana Municipal Ins. Authority [3/17/00] 2000 MTWCC 13 In the 1995 WCA, section 39-71-741, MCA, provides the only statutory authority for lump summing a settlement. The section does not grant the WCC authority to order a lump-sum payment of an impairment award, discounted or undiscounted, to a permanently totally disabled claimant.