Great Falls, MT workers’ compensation lawyers explain what benefits you may be entitled to
When a Montana employee suffers an injury or develops an occupational disease or illness due to circumstances that occurred while on the job, they are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. According to Montana workers’ compensation laws, all employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance. Employees receive benefits according to the rules, schedules and statutes established by the state.
In this article, experienced Montana workers’ compensation attorneys at Murphy Law Firm will explain what benefits you are entitled to after a workplace injury, accident or illness.
But first, you should know about your responsibilities as an employee in order to be eligible for these benefits.
Report a work-related injury or illness
Employees must report injuries that occur on the job to their supervisor or employer as quickly as possible. Job-related illnesses must also be reported promptly.
Employees are required to fill out and sign the First Report of Injury form within 1 year of the date that the accident or the diagnosis of the illness occurred. The form must be submitted to the employer, the workers’ compensation insurance provider or to the Montana Department of Labor & Industry.
After receiving the report, the insurer has 1 month to accept or deny the claim. If accepted, the employee is then eligible for temporary or permanent disability benefits. In the event of death due to injury or illness, their family becomes entitled to death benefits.
Once you’ve followed all of the proper steps and procedures, you should be eligible for the following benefits.
Indemnity benefits (lost wages)
Temporary disability benefits
If an employee incurs wage losses while recovering from a work-related injury, they may receive temporary partial or temporary total disability benefits. Currently, the maximum amount of benefits depends on your date of injury and can be viewed here.
Temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits are paid to workers who are recovering from a work-related injury but are still able to work part-time or in a diminished capacity. Their wages must be lower than normal. TPD benefits continue until the employee returns to their former position and their previous wages. The benefits paid are calculated on the difference between the former and current wages. For example, if an employee was earning $800 per week before and currently receives $450 weekly, the TPD benefit amounts to $350.
Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are received by employees who are temporarily unable to work at all due to their work-related injury or illness. Montana workers’ compensation benefits generally equal 2/3 of the employee’s gross wages up to the maximum rate allowed by the state. The benefits continue until the employee returns to work or reaches the maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is the state at which a physician deems the patient will not experience further improvement.
Permanent disability benefits
If an employee suffers a permanent injury or an illness but is still able to work in a limited capacity, they may be entitled to permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. The money granted to the worker is determined by the seriousness of the injury or illness, the extent of wages lost and various vocational factors, which include age, education and skill set.
An employee may receive benefits for up to 400 weeks. If the worker is unable to return to their former occupation, they may be entitled to paid vocational rehabilitation.
When the worker reaches MMI, a physician assigns the employee an impairment rating following an examination. The impairments are categorized as being Class 1 or Class 2 or higher. Class 1 impairments entitle the employee to PPD benefits if they suffer a wage loss. On the other hand, Class 2 impairments entitle the employee to benefits regardless of wage loss.
The system for determining PPD benefits remains complicated. As such, affected employees are advised to consult with an experienced Montana workers’ compensation attorney. According to Montana workers’ compensation laws, an employee may be entitled to between 20 and 25 percent of an attorney’s fees.
Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits are determined once the worker reaches MMI. The benefits are paid to a worker who suffered serious injury or illness that prohibits them from returning to work. PTD benefits are typically rated as being 2/3 of an employee’s former gross wages up to the state’s maximum benefit rate. After receiving the payments for 104 weeks, the recipient is entitled to cost of living adjustments. The benefits are paid until the worker reaches the age of Social Security eligibility.
All of an injured or ailing employee’s medical expenses are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. However, the worker must have documentation of any examinations, treatments, medications or therapies incurred. In some instances, the insurance may also cover the cost of a second medical opinion.
An injured or ailing employee may receive reimbursements for travel, accommodation, meals and other expenses according to the rates determined by the state of Montana. The state allows payment for up to 100 miles of travel each month unless the trip was requested by the MSF. However, employees cannot receive reimbursements if medical treatment was available within their area.
If a work-related fatality occurs, the victim’s family is entitled to Montana workers’ compensation death benefits. The payments are received by the loved ones for up to 500 weeks. The benefits are rated at 2/3 of the employee’s gross wages at the time of the incident but cannot exceed the state’s maximum amount. The family may also be entitled to receive up to $4,000 for funeral and burial expenses.
Talk to a knowledgeable Montana workers’ comp lawyer about your benefits
Benefits can be difficult to obtain, and the process may be confusing for those not familiar with the terminology and steps. For these reasons and more, it’s important to consult an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to assist in your case.