Understand your rights and the steps to take after a catastrophic injury at work
If you’re a Montana worker who has suffered a serious injury on the job, it’s crucial to understand that workers’ compensation exists to support you during these challenging times. The Murphy Law Firm is dedicated to helping individuals like you navigate the complexities of work-related injuries, especially catastrophic ones.
Catastrophic injuries are severe and have long-lasting effects that can drastically alter your daily life. They often require extended medical care and rehabilitation, and in some cases, they can lead to permanent disabilities or disfigurement that can prevent you from performing your regular job duties for extended periods or even permanently.
At Murphy Law Firm, we recognize the severity of these injuries and the long-term implications they carry. If you’ve suffered a catastrophic injury at work in Montana, it’s essential that you fully understand your rights under workers’ comp and the amount of compensation you’re entitled to so you’ll have the financial support you need both today and well into the future.
Reach out to our experienced Great Falls work injury attorneys to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can help maximize your benefits after a catastrophic injury.
What makes an injury catastrophic?
Typically, an injury is labeled as catastrophic when it’s exceptionally severe and results in long-term consequences that significantly affect an individual’s daily life. Such injuries frequently necessitate prolonged medical attention, which may include extensive rehabilitation, and can often result in permanent disabilities and even death.
Additionally, catastrophic injuries frequently prevent individuals from being able to perform their usual work duties for extended periods, and in some instances, they might lead to permanent work incapacity.
What classifies as a catastrophic injury?
There are a number of injuries that are considered catastrophic. Many of these commonly occur in the workplace after an accident or exposure to dangerous substances. They include the following:
- Eye injuries. Incidents that impact the eyes, like the splashing of hazardous liquids or the impact of flying objects, can result in visual impairment for workers. Depending on the severity, such incidents might lead to complete blindness or the loss of an eye. These significant injuries can alter a person’s life dramatically, often making it impossible for them to continue with their regular employment.
- Hearing loss. Certain occupations expose workers to prolonged periods of intense noise, which, over time, can lead to significant hearing loss. This loss can also be exacerbated or caused by exposure to ototoxic chemicals, which are harmful to the auditory system. In many instances, this type of hearing damage is permanent, and some individuals may find that hearing aids offer little to no benefit in improving their hearing.
- Severe burns. Workplace accidents like explosions or fires can lead to employees suffering severe burns. These injuries can cause disfigurement, are very painful and often require multiple surgeries and considerable rehab.
- Amputations. Accidents involving heavy machinery, equipment or vehicles can cause a worker to lose a limb. This has numerous effects on a person’s ability to work and manage daily activities that are normally taken for granted. Amputation injuries often require rehabilitation and sometimes prosthetics.
- Traumatic brain injuries. A traumatic brain injury occurs when a worker suffers a serious blow to the head or an object penetrates the skull and pierces their brain. These injuries can range from mild to severe, but even a mild concussion can dramatically change someone’s life. Depending on the injury, a worker may require extensive time off to recuperate or be left with permanent brain damage.
- Chemical exposure. When workers are exposed to harmful, toxic chemicals or substances, it can have devastating consequences. They can be left with permanent damage to their health in the form of incurable cancer or respiratory illness. Some workers may need special medical treatment and be unable to work for the rest of their lives after long-term chemical exposure.
- Spinal cord injuries. One of the most catastrophic injuries suffered in the workplace is a spinal cord injury. Workers can sustain these injuries in a variety of accidents and be left with chronic, long-term pain, limited range of motion or even permanent paralysis.
- Multiple bone fractures. Workers who experience struck-by or crushing accidents are likely to suffer from multiple bone fractures. These catastrophic injuries often require extensive surgery and physical therapy.
Can I recover from a catastrophic injury and return to work?
The likelihood of recovering and returning to work after a catastrophic injury varies based on the injury’s nature and severity. While full or substantial recovery is possible in some instances, returning to your previous job role might not always be feasible.
In such instances, vocational rehabilitation benefits may be used to help you adapt to a different role with less demanding tasks to accommodate your post-injury capabilities.
For example, consider a construction worker who has suffered a thumb amputation. This injury significantly impacts their ability to perform tasks requiring manual dexterity, which is essential in their former role.
Through vocational rehabilitation, they could receive training in a new skill set or a related field that is less physically demanding. This might include learning computer-aided design (CAD) for construction planning, project management or a role in construction safety oversight.
The goal of vocational rehabilitation in this scenario is to provide the worker with the necessary skills and training to transition into a new role that accommodates their injury while still utilizing their experience in the construction industry if possible.
How much does workers’ comp pay in Montana for catastrophic injuries?
If you suffer a catastrophic injury at work, you may be entitled to certain workers’ compensation benefits. They include the following:
- Medical benefits. Medical benefits pay for your medical expenses, ongoing treatment, hospitalization, medications, medical supplies and equipment (like a prosthesis or wheelchair), surgical procedures and physical therapy.
- Temporary disability benefits. If your injury has rendered you temporarily disabled and unable to work, you may be able to recover temporary total disability (TTD) or temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits, which typically pay two-thirds of your average weekly wages up to a maximum set annually by the state.
- Permanent disability benefits. If you are permanently disabled as a result of your injuries, you may qualify for permanent total disability (PTD) or permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. The amount of this compensation will depend on several factors, including the severity and nature of your disability, your previous wage level, and the guidelines set under Montana workers’ compensation laws.
- Vocational rehabilitation. These benefits are available if you can no longer work your previous position and need to gain new skills to acquire a different job with different tasks.
- Death benefits. If a loved one is killed while on the job, surviving family members are entitled to death benefits. These pay for funeral and burial expenses and cover a portion of the deceased worker’s lost income.
The amount of workers’ compensation benefits you’re entitled to and the duration of those benefits vary greatly depending on the extent of the injury and how it impacts your ability to work and function in your daily life.
To ensure you get the maximum benefits for your specific injury, it’s highly recommended that you discuss your case with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can estimate the value of your claim and negotiate with insurers to help you get the compensation you deserve.
How long can you be on workers’ comp in Montana?
In Montana, medical benefits for a work-related injury will be provided for as long as they’re necessary and related to the work injury.
The duration for which you can receive workers’ compensation wage loss benefits depends on the nature and severity of your injury:
- If your injury results in a permanent impairment but you’re still able to work in some capacity, you may receive PPD benefits. The duration of these benefits depends on the extent of your impairment, the injured body part and other factors.
- If you’re permanently and totally disabled, you may be eligible for PTD benefits. These can potentially continue for life, depending on your ability to return to any form of gainful employment.
How can I ensure I get enough compensation to cover my future medical and financial needs?
Ensuring that you receive adequate compensation to cover your future medical and financial needs following a work injury involves several important steps:
- Report your injury promptly. Make sure to report your injury to your employer as soon as possible but no more than 30 days after the accident. This is crucial for starting the workers’ compensation process.
- Seek medical attention. Get a thorough medical evaluation and treatment for your injury as soon as possible. This is necessary to show that you’re taking steps to minimize the damage and also provides documentation linking your injury to work, which is essential for a successful workers’ comp claim. Also, keep detailed records of your medical visits, treatments, and any recommendations from your health care providers.
- Document everything. Keep detailed records of all documents related to your injury, including medical bills, reports and any correspondence with your employer or their insurance company.
- Learn about the workers’ compensation claim process. Familiarize yourself with the workers’ compensation claim process, including the time limits and steps for filing a claim.
- Consider your future needs. Think about your long-term needs, including ongoing medical care, rehabilitation, and any modifications needed for your home or vehicle, and ensure these are factored into any settlement award.
- Be cautious with settlement offers. If offered a settlement, review it carefully with an attorney to ensure it covers all your future needs. Never rush into accepting a settlement that may not be in your best interest.
- Explore all avenues of compensation. In addition to workers’ compensation, you may be eligible for other benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if your injury leads to long-term disability.
- Consult with a workers’ compensation attorney. An experienced attorney can provide valuable guidance on your rights and the compensation process. They can help negotiate with insurance companies and ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your injury.
By taking these steps, you can better position yourself to receive the compensation necessary to address your current and future medical and financial needs following a work-related injury.
Looking for the best Montana workers’ compensation attorney after a catastrophic work injury?
When facing the aftermath of a catastrophic work injury in Montana, it’s essential to have a reliable and experienced ally on your side. Murphy Law Firm stands ready to provide that support. With our in-depth knowledge and dedicated approach to workers’ compensation law, we are well-equipped to assist you through every step of your claim.