When Workers' Compensation Isn't Enough

The law in Montana requires all employers to carry workers' compensation for all full-time employees.

Posted: 07/24/2018

The law in Montana requires all employers to carry workers' compensation for all full-time employees. Workers' compensation is a system in which the government will pay an injured worker's medical bills and lost wages if the worker sustained the injury while performing work-related tasks.

Injured workers do not have to prove a case or show evidence of negligence to recover through workers' compensation. In return, however, employees give up their rights to file personal injury lawsuits against the employers. This begs the question in the more serious injury cases - what if workers' compensation isn't enough?

What Does Workers' Compensation Cover?

The Montana Workers' Compensation System provides medical benefits to all injured workers who qualify. In general, if the worker didn't cause his/her own injuries through recklessness at work, the worker will be eligible for benefits. The worker simply has to file a workers' compensation claim within 12 months of the date of the accident. The state law provides the following benefits to injured workers:

  • All medical treatment and supplies related to the work injury or illness (past and future). This includes doctor's appointments, medications, surgeries, medical devices, therapies, rehabilitation, and live-in nursing care. Injured parties can choose their own medical professionals for treatment.
  • Disability benefits. Injured workers can receive temporary total disability benefits, permanent partial disability benefits, permanent total disability benefits, and/or disfigurement payments depending on the injury. The worker will continue to receive these benefits until he or she recovers.
  • Death payments. In the event of a worker's death on the job, Montana laws provide wrongful death payments to a surviving spouse and dependent children. These payments can go toward lost inheritance, burial costs, and other losses the family is experiencing after a fatal workplace accident.
  • Wage reimbursement. The worker will receive benefits for absences from work during treatment, recovery, and because of disabilities. The law allows for recovery of two-thirds lost wages in Montana. Benefit checks to recover lost wages should reach the claimant every two weeks.

Montana workers' compensation does not provide benefits for full lost wages, pain, and suffering, mental anguish, loss of consortium, or property damage related to a workplace accident. It also does not provide punitive damages if someone's gross negligence or recklessness caused the accident. Unfortunately for many injured employees, workers' compensation simply isn't enough to cover all their losses.

Injured Employees' Other Recovery Options in Montana

Workers' compensation might not be the only means of recovery for someone who suffers injuries on the job in Montana. If another person's negligence contributed to the accident that caused the injuries, the worker might have grounds to file a personal injury claim with the civil courts. A negligent employer, coworker, product manufacturer, or property owner could be liable for an employee's injuries. In these cases, the worker should file a personal injury claim for workplace accidents.

A personal injury lawsuit could result in payment for total lost wages, physical pain, emotional suffering, distress, property repairs, punitive damages, funeral/burial costs, and more. A settlement or judgment award could also reimburse the claimant for court costs and attorney's fees. With the right workers' compensation lawyer, an injured worker could recover a significant amount for his or her workplace accident.

Once you accept a workers' compensation settlement, there's no going back. You will permanently forfeit your right to bring a claim against your employer. If a third party caused your accident, however, you could potentially recover through both workers' compensation and an injury claim against the at-fault party. These lawsuits are simple with trusted lawyers by your side. Always consult with a Montana personal injury attorney before saying yes to a workers' compensation settlement - otherwise, you could miss out on full compensation.

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