How to receive workers’ comp as a local, state or federal government employee
Workers’ compensation laws are designed to help employees if the worst should happen while they are performing their work duties. Personal injuries at work can range from a strained muscle to something severe that leads to death or long-term disability.
Although occupational fatalities in Montana have been trending downwards over the past several decades, the past 3 years indicate that there are still 5.9 deaths per 100,000 workers. Sadly, this only represents the worst-case scenario for workplace injuries. Many more employees get injured every year, and most of these accidents are outside of their control.
When most workers in Montana get hurt on the job, they file a traditional workers’ compensation claim to start the process of receiving benefits. For government employees and people within certain industries, however, this process might not be so simple.
Whether you work for the federal, state or local government, knowing how to handle your claim makes a major difference in the outcome of your case.
How many people work for the government in Montana?
In Montana, approximately 8,600 people work for the federal government. The state employs around 11,500 workers. City governments naturally employ fewer people, yet they add up when you consider the number of employees in each city throughout the state.
For example, Helena employs over 350 city government workers, and Billings has over 500. Any of these employees could face an injury at work at some point during their careers. In fact, when you consider that many of these employees work in professions such as healthcare and protective services, it becomes clear just how common it is for someone to get hurt.
What are the most common injuries suffered by government employees?
Professional positions that require a college degree or the equivalent combination of education and experience make up 55 percent of Montana’s state government workforce. People in this sector tend to hold management-level positions that involve spending large amounts of time in office settings.
Government workers in agricultural, health services, manufacturing and protective services fields are at the highest risk for sustaining injuries at work. The most serious injuries involve brain trauma, broken bones and muscle strains which can occur during transportation incidents and accidental contact with machinery and equipment.
Government workers at all levels can also experience violent injuries from other people and animals, especially those who provide protective services to the community.
Does FECA apply to government employees?
Montana state and local government employees are typically covered by their state or local government’s workers’ compensation program. However, there may be some instances where you fall under other provisions. The best way to find out how you are covered under workers’ compensation is to consult with your employer’s human resources (HR) department.
Regardless of what government agency you work for, you will want to report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. Those who work for a labor union will also want to follow the protocol for reporting their injury to their union representative. Then, you will need to work through each step to file your claim. Typically, this involves getting medical documentation of your injuries along with proof of how it affects your ability to continue working.
Federal workers’ compensation benefits tend to work differently. The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) allows for you to receive benefits if you are disabled, or your family if you’re killed on the job. These benefits include compensation for medical treatments and income that you lost due to being unable to perform your normal job duties.
If you work in a specialty field, there are several federal acts that may impact your workers’ compensation claims. These include the following:
- Jones Act—seamen
- Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act—longshoremen and others involved in maritime activities
- Defense Base—employees working on defense bases
As with state and local government employees, let your immediate supervisor know about your injury. Once you’ve reported what happened, continue following the appropriate guidelines for filing your claim.
As a government employee, you may find that seeking workers’ compensation is far more complicated than you expected. Your claim may be denied if you file with the wrong entity, or you might not even know where to start. Reaching out to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer gives you support that makes it possible to navigate your way through a complicated process when you need to focus on your recovery.