Montana Code Annotated 2023



Part 6. Claims for Benefits

Costs And Attorney Fees That May Be Assessed Against Insurer By Workers' Compensation Judge -- Barring Of Attorney Fees Under Common Fund Or Other Doctrines

39-71-612. Costs and attorney fees that may be assessed against insurer by workers' compensation judge -- barring of attorney fees under common fund or other doctrines. (1) If an insurer pays or submits a written offer of payment of compensation under this chapter but controversy relates to the amount of compensation due, the case is brought before the workers' compensation judge for adjudication of the controversy, and the award granted by the judge is greater than the amount paid or offered by the insurer, reasonable attorney fees and costs as established by the workers' compensation judge if the case has gone to a hearing may be awarded by the judge in addition to the amount of compensation.

(2) An award of attorney fees under subsection (1) may be made only if it is determined that the actions of the insurer were unreasonable. Any written offer of payment made 30 days or more before the date of hearing must be considered a valid offer of payment for the purposes of this section.

(3) A finding of unreasonableness against an insurer made under this section does not constitute a finding that the insurer acted in bad faith or violated the unfair trade practices provisions of Title 33, chapter 18.

(4) Attorney fees may be awarded only under the provisions of subsections (1) and (2) and may not be awarded under the common fund doctrine or any other action or doctrine in law or equity.

History: En. 92-618 by Sec. 1, Ch. 187, L. 1975; R.C.M. 1947, 92-618; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 575, L. 1985; amd. Sec. 17, Ch. 464, L. 1987; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 464, L. 2003; amd. Sec. 25, Ch. 416, L. 2005.