Understand your right to workers’ compensation and how to maximize your benefits after an injury installing floors
As of 2022, there were nearly 121,000 flooring installers nationwide. With another 3,500 jobs projected to be added in 2023 alone, it’s no wonder so many workers seek out careers in this fast-growing industry.
In Great Falls, Montana, the need for skilled flooring installers remains high. Serving both residential and commercial clients, these professionals offer a wide range of services to meet the community’s diverse flooring needs. From hardwood and laminate to tile and carpet, flooring installers in Great Falls are equipped to handle various types of installations, ensuring quality and durability.
Unfortunately, these fast-paced, high-demand jobs mean that work injuries are all too common. If you suffer an injury while working as a flooring installer, it’s crucial that you understand your rights to compensation and take the appropriate steps to file a claim. This article will guide you through the process to help you maximize your compensation.
Top work hazards for flooring installers
Flooring installers face a number of occupational hazards that are important to acknowledge for their safety and well-being.
Perhaps the most significant hazard is the inherently repetitive tasks associated with their work, including bending, kneeling and lifting heavy materials. Over time, these activities can result in chronic pain and serious musculoskeletal disorders.
Another common risk is exposure to chemicals found in adhesives, solvents and finishes. Without proper ventilation and protective equipment, repeated chemical exposure can lead to skin irritation and severe respiratory issues and diseases.
Slip, trip and fall hazards are also prevalent, given that flooring installers often work on uneven surfaces or handle bulky materials that can obstruct pathways. Additionally, the use of power tools and other sharp equipment to cut and hammer flooring poses considerable danger as well.
Most common injuries for flooring installers
Musculoskeletal injuries are particularly common among flooring installers due to the nature of their work, which often involves repetitive motions, heavy lifting and prolonged periods of kneeling or bending. These activities can strain the muscles, tendons and ligaments, leading to repetitive stress injuries such as lower back pain, knee injuries (like meniscus tears or bursitis) and shoulder strains.
Over time, these acute injuries can develop into chronic conditions if not properly addressed. For example, repeated lifting of heavy flooring materials can exacerbate spinal issues, leading to chronic back pain or even herniated discs.
Other common injuries among flooring installers include the following:
- Fall-related injuries. Working on uneven or slippery surfaces can result in slips, trips, and falls, potentially causing fractures, spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries.
- Burn injuries. Exposure to adhesives and solvents can result in chemical burns on the skin.
- Eye injuries. Particles, dust or chemical splashes can lead to eye injuries, necessitating the use of protective eyewear.
- Electrical shocks. Improper use of electrical tools or working in areas with exposed wiring can result in electrical shocks.
- Hearing loss. Prolonged exposure to loud machinery or tools without proper ear protection can result in hearing loss over time.
- Cuts and amputations. The use of sharp tools like knives and saws can result in cuts, lacerations or even amputations.
- Respiratory issues. Inhaling fumes from chemicals or dust can lead to respiratory problems, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Puncture wounds. Nails, screws and other sharp objects can cause puncture wounds if not properly handled.
Are Montana flooring installers eligible for workers’ compensation after an injury?
Yes, in Montana, most employers with even 1 full- or part-time employee are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to cover their workers in the event of an on-the-job injury, illness or disease. To be eligible for these benefits, workers only need to be able to prove that their injury, illness, or disease was the direct result of their job.
For example, a back injury sustained from lifting heavy flooring materials at work would typically be covered under workers’ compensation because it occurred while performing job-related duties.
However, if a flooring installer experiences a heart attack while at work, and it’s determined that the event was primarily caused by a pre-existing condition and not directly related to work activities, then it’s unlikely that a claim for workers’ compensation would be approved.
What workers’ comp benefits are injured flooring installers entitled to?
The types and amount of workers’ compensation benefits you’re eligible to receive depend on your specific injury and the treatments you require. In general, injured workers may receive the following:
- Medical benefits to cover all necessary medical expenses related to the injury. This includes past and future expenses.
- Wage loss benefits to cover two-thirds of a worker’s average weekly wage during their recovery.
- Death benefits to cover funeral expenses and lost income for certain dependents if a worker dies from a work-related injury or illness.
How do I file a workers’ comp claim in Montana?
To get workers’ compensation after an on-the-job injury or illness, you’ll need to follow certain procedures and strict timelines. Below are the 2 most crucial steps to take:
- Seek medical care as soon as possible, and inform the health care provider that the injury occurred at work. This will make it easier to link your injury to your job.
- Report your injury to your employer. In most cases, you must give them verbal notice within 30 days and written notice within 1 year to qualify for benefits.
After you report your injury, it’s your employer’s responsibility to file the necessary paperwork with their insurance company. Once they file your claim, you should get a decision within 30 days.
Keep in mind that if your claim is denied, you have up to 2 years to appeal the decision. It’s highly recommended that you hire a workers’ compensation attorney to help you with the process to prevent minor mistakes that could hurt your chance at compensation.
How do pre-existing conditions affect my workers’ compensation claim?
While a pre-existing condition might complicate your claim, if you can prove that your work activities exacerbated the condition, you may still be eligible for benefits. Each case is unique, and consultation with a legal expert is advisable to understand your rights.
How can I prove that my injury is work-related to qualify for workers’ comp?
Medical documentation and witness statements are often key to proving that an injury is work-related. Keeping a detailed record of the incident and the tasks you were performing can also strengthen your claim.
Are injuries sustained during breaks or lunchtime eligible for workers’ comp?
Generally, injuries that occur during breaks or lunchtime are not covered by workers’ compensation unless they are related in some way to employment. The key factor is usually whether the injury is considered to be “arising out of and in the course of employment.”
If you’re in a company cafeteria or a break room and you slip and fall, for example, you might be eligible for workers’ comp. However, if you leave the workplace for lunch and sustain an injury, it’s less likely that you’ll be covered.
What if my employer refuses to file my claim?
If your employer refuses to file your workers’ compensation claim, you should contact an experienced work injury attorney to explain your legal options. The refusal of an employer to file a claim is generally considered a serious violation, and an attorney can help you file a complaint against your employer.
More often than not, when an employer learns that you’ve elicited the help of an attorney, they end up complying with the law to avoid legal penalties and a potential lawsuit.
How much does it cost to hire a workers’ compensation attorney?
The cost of hiring a workers’ compensation attorney can vary widely depending on the complexity of your case and whether or not it goes to trial. However, many workers’ compensation attorneys work on a contingency fee basis.
This means that they only get paid if they win your case or secure a settlement.
If they’re successful at getting you compensation, the fee is usually a percentage of the benefits you receive, typically ranging from 15% to 25%. However, this fee is typically more than made up for by the higher settlement amounts they’re able to negotiate on your behalf.
Contact an experienced Montana work injury attorney
If you’ve suffered an injury while working as a flooring installer in the Great Falls area, contact the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Murphy Law Firm. Our attorneys have been helping injured Montana workers get the compensation they deserve for more than 75 years, and we can help you too. Let us handle the negotiations with your employer’s insurance company so you can focus all your energy on your recovery.
Contact us today for a free consultation.
Flooring Installers and Tile and Stone Setters : Occupational Outlook Handbook: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (n.d.).