If you are like most Montana workers, you are a dedicated and hardworking employee. It can be disheartening to discover that your dedication and loyalty to your employer are not reciprocated when you suffer a serious injury at your job and must file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Instead, your employer’s insurance company may try to deny or reduce your claim. If you are in this situation, you need the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to fight for the workers’ compensation benefits that you are entitled to.
Who Is Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Montana?
In Montana, like other states, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system that provides injured workers with benefits regardless of who was at fault in causing the worker’s injuries—even if it was the employee’s fault. In exchange for the guarantee of certain benefits, employees are not allowed to file a personal injury claim against their employer in most cases. A person is entitled to benefits for both an injury on the job and an occupational illness or disease caused by his work.
An injury must have been caused while a worker was performing his job duties in order to be eligible for workers’ comp benefits. If an employee was out for lunch or doing a personal errand during his lunch break and suffered an injury, it would not be covered under workers’ compensation. Occupational illnesses can be diseases or other medical conditions that develop over time. Carpal tunnel syndrome and illnesses from exposure to toxic substances, such as respiratory illnesses and cancer, are occupational illnesses that may entitle a worker to benefits.
How to File a Claim for Workers’ Compensation in Montana
Employees must follow the strict time limits for reporting an injury and filing a workers’ compensation claim to qualify for benefits. A worker is required to report his injury or illness to his supervisor within 30 days of the accident or illness. It is best to do so through a written notice or email. To file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, a worker must complete and file a First Report of Injury with his employer, his employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company, or the Montana Department of Labor and Industry. The First Report of Injury must be filed within one year of the accident or illness.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits That You May Be Entitled to in Montana
The types of workers’ compensation benefits that a worker may be entitled to will depend on the severity of the injuries and his ability to return to work. These benefits are available under Montana’s workers’ compensation laws:
- Medical benefits. Workers are entitled to medical benefits to pay for all necessary medical care to treat their injuries. Workers can select their physician unless they are subject to a managed care plan.
- Temporary Total Disability. Employees are entitled to temporary total disability (TTD) benefits while they are unable to work due to their injuries. These benefits are two-thirds of the workers’ gross wages up to the cap, which is the maximum weekly benefits allowed under Montana law. The weekly cap is $768 through June 30, 2018. A worker is entitled to this payment until he returns to work or reaches his maximum medical improvement (MMI) where he has recovered as much as he can.
- Temporary Partial Disability. A worker is entitled to temporary partial disability benefits if he is able to return to work but at a lower pay. He is entitled to the difference between his pre-injury and post-injury wages up to his TTD benefit amount. He may continue to receive these payments until he returns to his pre-injury wages or reaches his maximum medical improvement.
- Permanent Total Disability. If a worker’s injuries are serious enough that he is unable to return to any job, he may be entitled to permanent total disability benefits once he reaches his maximum medical improvement. These payments are the same as the temporary total disability benefit amount. Workers may be entitled to these benefits until they reach Social Security retirement age.
- Partial Total Disability. When a worker suffers a permanent injury but can return to work in another capacity, he may be entitled to partial total disability benefits. The worker’s payment is based on the severity of the injury, the amount of the wage loss, and vocational factors. Workers generally only receive these benefits for a maximum of 400 weeks.
- Vocational Rehabilitation. An injured worker may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation if he is unable to return to his former job, suffered a partial permanent disability, or suffered a wage loss.
- Wrongful Death. If a worker died as a result of his injuries, his surviving beneficiaries may be entitled to wrongful death benefits. These can include a portion of the worker’s wages and reasonable funeral expenses.
Has your workers’ compensation claim been denied? Was a loved one killed? We’re here to explain your rights to you and fight for the worker’ compensation benefits that you deserve. Call our office or fill out our online form to schedule your free consultation.