When you’re injured in an accident in Montana, insurance companies are often required to “advance-pay” your medical bills and lost wages. “Advance pay” means that you can receive reimbursement for certain medical bills and lost wages when these losses are incurred, instead of having to wait for a final settlement of your claim. Montana law requires advance payment of these expenses where “liability is reasonably clear” and the costs are directly related to an injury suffered in the accident.
This rule is pretty unique to Montana and is a result of a couple of different Montana Supreme Court decisions protective of plaintiffs. In Ridley v. Guaranty National Insurance Company, 286 Mont. 325, 951 P2d 987 (MT 1991), the Court ruled that an insurance company operating in Montana has a duty to pay plaintiffs’ undisputed medical expenses, up to the limits of its policy, prior to and without the benefit of a settlement agreement. Expanding on this idea, in DuBray v. Farmers Insurance Exchange, 2001 MT 251, 307 Mont. 134, 36 P3d 897, the Court held that an insurance carrier must also pay lost wages that are reasonably certain and directly related to their insured’s negligence or wrongful act.
These important legal decisions are designed to protect the rights of injured people in Montana. It means that an injured Montanan can take the time to treat their injuries and understand the full extent of their accident-related injuries before being forced into a premature settlement with the insurance company. Contact the lawyers at diStefano & Mattingley if you have questions or if you want to see if your injuries qualify for advance payment under Montana law.