Ten Years After - Montana To Begin Looking At "Real" Cost Drivers

Work Comp Study

Assigned to EAIC

HJ 25 (Rep. Scott Reichner - Bigfork) directs the Economic Affairs Interim Committee (EAIC) to study various work comp issues, primarily the issue of "subrogation." In a situation in which a worker is injured by a third party, work comp benefits should be offset if the injured worker is made whole by damages in a tort claim, referred to as subrogation.

Due to court decisions in Montana, subrogation does not apply until a claimant is given a chance to be made whole in a civil action against a third party or provided "full legal redress for injury incurred in employment." Work comp insurers in other states may be able to successfully subrogate and receive offsets against their costs thus potentially lowering work comp premiums, while in Montana few insurers are willing to pay the court costs necessary to pursue subrogation because of concerns that under the constitutional interpretations an injured worker first must be made whole.

HJ 25 also directs the EAIC to look at work comp court structure, Montana State Fund independence, medical utilization and treatment guidelines, return-to-work or stay-at-work policies, and on-the-job safety.