According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 2.9 million workplace accidents occurred in 2016. Workplace accidents can occur in any job, although certain industries are more accident-prone. Injuries may take place in many different ways, some of which are the result of negligent co-workers or executives.
If you have suffered an injury from a workplace accident in Montana, you may be eligible to file a claim. Contact our Billings, Helena, and Great Falls workplace injury attorneys at Odegaard Kovacich Snipes for guidance and experienced representation.
The common solution for workplace accidents is workers' compensation. Montana law requires employers to purchase workers' compensation insurance for their employees. Workers' compensation will cover most instances of workplace injuries, but usually keeps employees from being able to file a lawsuit against their employer.
There are a number of benefits that Montana workers' compensation can provide, with the most basic benefit being medical care. The medical care benefit allows your workers' compensation to cover the expenses for any medical attention or surgery that you needed because of the injury.
Workers' compensation also grants you temporary total or temporary partial disability benefits, depending on the severity of the injury. Temporary total disability benefits apply to those whose injuries are severe enough to prevent them from working for a certain period. Temporary partial disability covers workers whose injuries prevent them from being able to work for the same level of compensation.
If your injury is a permanent disability, workers' compensation permits permanent partial or permanent total disability. Permanent partial disability is for those suffering permanent damage and wage loss even though they can return to work eventually. Permanent total disability covers injured workers who can no longer go back to work.
The final two Montana workers' compensation benefits are rehabilitation benefits and death benefits. Rehabilitation benefits are for workers whose injuries require long-term rehabilitation to help them return to the workforce, while death benefits are for families who lost a loved one to a workplace accident.
Depending on the situation, a workplace accident warrants a personal injury claim instead of, or in addition to, workers' compensation. Employees can file personal injury claims if their injuries happened due to the negligence of a third party - a product manufacturer or another business for example. While workers' compensation is available to any worker injured on the job, negligence and liability must be established in these types of claims. To prove negligence, you must show that the third party had a duty, failed to complete that duty, and that the third party's failure was the direct cause of your injury.
If you file a personal injury claim and win your case, the court could award you a variety of damages. The most basic damage being medical expenses. Medical expenses include any money that you had to spend for any medical attention needed because of the workplace injury. The court could also order the defendant to compensate you for lost wages. Lost wages account for money that you lost because of days you needed off work to recover, or a difference in earning capacity if your salary potential dropped because of the injury.
The court can also award you damages for pain and suffering. Pain and suffering covers emotional and mental trauma that the injury caused you. Pain and suffering can be more difficult to quantify, so many courts will ask that the plaintiff summon people who can testify about the mental and emotional state of the victim before and after the incident.
After a workplace accident, it is important to act quickly. The first thing you should do is file an accident report. Montana, like all other states, has a statute of limitations that only gives you a certain amount of time between the incident and the time that you file before you are no longer eligible for compensation. See a doctor as soon as possible so that you can learn the extent of your injuries when you apply for workers' compensation or file a personal injury claim. You or your employer may file your workers' compensation claim with the insurance company, so be sure to report your injury as soon as you become aware of such conditions.
Though most agencies accept and process workers' compensation applications without issues, you may have trouble with your employer. Consult a Billings, Helena, or Great Falls workplace injury attorney if you are having trouble with your workers' compensation claim.
Industrial jobs can be extremely dangerous professions. The heavy machinery used in such professions can cause serious injuries to operators, especially if there are malfunctioning parts or poor maintenance. The most common types of industrial injuries are amputations, head injuries, neck injuries, back and spinal cord injuries, burns, and eye injuries. Some industrial injuries can lead to permanent disability. For example, workers who injure their spinal cord could end up paralyzed from the neck down, an injury that would change their life significantly and permanently.
There are a few general causes of industrial accidents. The first general cause of industrial accidents is an unsafe condition. Unsafe conditions could include defective tools and machinery, malfunctioning equipment, and unsafe materials. Malfunctioning equipment is the reason for about one-third of industrial accidents. If an industrial workplace has unsafe conditions, workers can suffer injuries that are out of their control.
Another cause of an industrial accident is an unsafe act. Unsafe acts are accidents that occur because a worker was being irresponsible or unreasonable.
Some other possible causes of industrial workplace accidents include excessive noise, unreasonably high temperatures, humid conditions, unhealthy environments, slippery floors, excessive glare, excessive dust or fumes, and inferior supervisors.
Cranes are some of the largest, heaviest pieces of machinery that workers regularly use around the country. They are extremely dangerous for many reasons. Electrical hazards are a serious risk for crane operators. If a crane accidentally contacts a power line, the crane operator could die, and others could suffer serious harm. Construction sites using a crane must clearly mark nearby power lines before the crane arrives at the site.
Overloading can also lead to crane accidents. It is one of the most common circumstances for crane accidents. Some operators rely on their personal judgment instead of taking the time to check the weight of the load. Manufacturers design newer cranes to hold heavier loads in an effort to reduce the number of overloading accidents that occur on worksites.
Cranes are often moving materials at extreme heights. There is always the risk that materials will fall out of the crane's grasp and fall on a worker. Between 2011 and 2017, the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) reported more than 297 total crane-related deaths, averaging 42 per year during this time frame.Depending on the load, materials falling on someone from above could be serious, even fatal. Industrial workers must wear headgear to protect them if something falls.
Hazardous weather is another condition that can be dangerous for crane operation. Though cranes can withstand a large amount of pressure and damage, they are not invincible. Like any pieces of machinery, cranes will break or snap after a certain amount of damage from poor weather conditions. Wind is especially dangerous. Strong winds can make the arm of a crane swing around, increasing the likelihood that the operator will lose control of the crane or that something will fall from the crane's grasp. The wind becomes stronger the higher you go, so the force of the wind is even more impactful from the height where a crane is operating. It is important that workers pay attention to the weather conditions and the size of the load so that they can accurately determine whether it is safe to operate the crane.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 401 farmers and farm workers died in farm accidents in 2015, amounting to a fatality rate of 19.2 deaths per 100,000 workers. Farm accidents are unique because the fatalities and injuries can affect multiple people in one family. Many farms are family-run, putting everyone in the family at risk for injury. According to the CDC, in 2014, an estimated 12,000 youth were injured on farms with 4,000 of these injuries were due to farm work. Between 1995 and 2002, an average of 113 deaths occurred among teenagers on farms younger than 20 years old. Regarding injuries to youth, the leading cause was machinery such as tractors at 23% of teenage deaths. Of them, 19% involved motor vehicles such as ATVs. Drowning was responsible for 16% of the teenage deaths on farms.
Tractors flipping or rolling caused the largest number of farm injuries annually. Many farmers and farm workers also suffer injuries from falling structures and materials such as grain bins, ladders, or haymows. Other farmers and farm workers suffered injuries because of entanglements with machinery. Many farms utilize pieces of large, complicated machinery that can be extremely dangerous for people who need to work with them. Some farmers and farm workers suffer suffocation. Suffocation occurs when workers are stuck in grain bins or silos, or when they are working in an environment with excessive fumes and low oxygen levels.
If you have suffered an injury at work, regardless of your occupation, you may be eligible to receive compensation. Contact the injury attorneys at Odegaard Kovacich Snipes for help determining whether you should request workers' compensation or file a claim against a third party. Our Billings, Helena, and Great Falls workplace injury lawyers can offer you dedicated and experienced representation, and we will fight to get you the compensation that you deserve.
In some cases, the insurance company will cut corners in order to avoid compensating you fully. At Odegaard Kovacich Snipes, we will fight to help you get the largest settlement possible. Our Montana construction accident attorneys are focused on assisting those in need in their cases. You may even be able to seek compensation from other parties who are partially responsible for your accident! Don't hesitate to talk about third-party claims with an attorney at our firm.
It is critical that you work with an attorney who has the experience, knowledge, and skill to handle cases involving both commercial and personal vehicle accidents. And, it is critical you hire an attorney who knows, thoroughly, the injury laws in Montana.
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