Workers' Compensation

Montana: High Court Says Statute Allowing Ex Parte Communications With Claimant’s Doctors Is Unconstitutional

Two Montana statutes that allow a workers’ compensation insurance carrier to have ex parte communications with claimant’s medical care providers represent an unconstitutional violation of claimant’s right to privacy, at least under the facts of the case before it, held the Montana Supreme Court.  The carrier terminated claimant’s TPD benefits after claimant revoked various releases and authorizations she had previously signed allowing the insurer and its agents to have ex parte communications with claimant’s doctors.  Observing that the “orderly administration” of workers’ compensation cases had been adequately effectuated for nearly 100 years without the necessity of ex parte communications, the court ruled that 2003 amendments to the Act were overly broad.  The court did indicate, however, that a narrowly crafted release authorizing contact with healthcare providers solely for administrative purposes would not violate a claimant’s right of privacy.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is a leading commentator and expert on the law of workers’ compensation.

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.

See Malcomson v. Liberty Northwest, 2014 MT 242, 2014 Mont. LEXIS 508 (Sept. 10, 2014) [2014 Mont. LEXIS 506 (Sept. 10, 2014)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 127.05 [127.05]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.

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