Montana Code Annotated 2021



Part 6. Claims for Benefits

Regulation Of Attorney Fees -- Forfeiture Of Fee For Noncompliance -- Return Of Fee When Claimant Received Benefits Through Fraud Or Deception

39-71-613. Regulation of attorney fees -- forfeiture of fee for noncompliance -- return of fee when claimant received benefits through fraud or deception. (1) When an attorney represents or acts on behalf of a claimant or any other party on any workers' compensation claim, the attorney shall submit to the department a contract of employment, on a form provided by the department, stating specifically the terms of the fee arrangement between the attorney and the claimant.

(2) The department may regulate the amount of the attorney fees in any workers' compensation case. In regulating the amount of the fees, the department shall consider:

(a) the benefits the claimant gained due to the efforts of the attorney;

(b) the time the attorney was required to spend on the case;

(c) the complexity of the case; and

(d) any other relevant matter the department may consider appropriate.

(3) An attorney who violates a provision of this section, a rule adopted under this section, or an order fixing attorney fees under this section forfeits the right to any fees that the attorney collected or was entitled to collect.

(4) If, after an attorney receives attorney fees and costs assessed against an insurer, the claimant is convicted of having obtained benefits through fraud or deception, the attorney fees and costs for obtaining the benefits must be returned to the insurer by the attorney.

(5) (a) A dispute concerning the forfeiture or return of attorney fees is considered a dispute for which the workers' compensation court has original jurisdiction and is not subject to mediation or a contested case hearing.

(b) The parties to a dispute referred to in subsection (5)(a) may voluntarily request a mediator appointed by the department and proceed to nonbinding mediation.

History: En. 92-619 by Sec. 1, Ch. 402, L. 1975; R.C.M. 1947, 92-619; amd. Sec. 18, Ch. 464, L. 1987; amd. Sec. 64, Ch. 613, L. 1989; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 235, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 18, Ch. 442, L. 1999; amd. Sec. 15, Ch. 112, L. 2009.