39-71-105. Declaration of public policy. For the purposes of interpreting and applying this chapter, the following is the public policy of this state:
(1) An objective of the Montana workers' compensation system is to provide, without regard to fault, wage-loss and medical benefits to a worker suffering from a work-related injury or disease. Wage-loss benefits are not intended to make an injured worker whole but are intended to provide assistance to a worker at a reasonable cost to the employer. Within that limitation, the wage-loss benefit should bear a reasonable relationship to actual wages lost as a result of a work-related injury or disease.
(2) It is the intent of the legislature to assert that a conclusive presumption exists that recognizes that a holder of a current, valid independent contractor exemption certificate issued by the department is an independent contractor if the person is working under the independent contractor exemption certificate. The holder of an independent contractor exemption certificate waives the rights, benefits, and obligations of this chapter unless the person has elected to be bound personally and individually by the provisions of compensation plan No. 1, 2, or 3.
(3) A worker's removal from the workforce because of a work-related injury or disease has a negative impact on the worker, the worker's family, the employer, and the general public. Therefore, an objective of the workers' compensation system is to return a worker to work as soon as possible after the worker has suffered a work-related injury or disease.
(4) Montana's workers' compensation and occupational disease insurance systems are intended to be primarily self-administering. Claimants should be able to speedily obtain benefits, and employers should be able to provide coverage at reasonably constant rates. To meet these objectives, the system must be designed to minimize reliance upon lawyers and the courts to obtain benefits and interpret liabilities.
(5) This chapter must be construed according to its terms and not liberally in favor of any party.
(6) It is the intent of the legislature that:
(a) stress claims, often referred to as "mental-mental claims" and "mental-physical claims", are not compensable under Montana's workers' compensation and occupational disease laws. The legislature recognizes that these claims are difficult to objectively verify and that the claims have a potential to place an economic burden on the workers' compensation and occupational disease system. The legislature also recognizes that there are other states that do not provide compensation for various categories of stress claims and that stress claims have presented economic problems for certain other jurisdictions. In addition, not all injuries are compensable under the present system, and it is within the legislature's authority to define the limits of the workers' compensation and occupational disease system.
(b) for occupational disease claims, because of the nature of exposure, workers should not be required to provide notice to employers of the disease as required of injuries and that the requirements for filing of claims reflect consideration of when the worker knew or should have known that the worker's condition resulted from an occupational disease. The legislature recognizes that occupational diseases in the workplace are caused by events occurring on more than a single day or work shift and that it is within the legislature's authority to define an occupational disease and establish the causal connection to the workplace.
History: En. Sec. 1, Ch. 464, L. 1987; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 630, L. 1993; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 103, L. 2005; amd. Sec. 9, Ch. 416, L. 2005; amd. Sec. 7, Ch. 448, L. 2005; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 167, L. 2011.