How to get help if your job makes you sick
Like every state, Montana has workers’ compensation laws that have been put in place to protect injured workers and their employers. This insurance program pays for the medical bills and a portion of a worker’s wages when they become ill or injured on the job.
Unfortunately, occupational illnesses and diseases are sometimes more difficult to prove than workplace accidents like a car accident or slip and fall. It can be especially arduous for workers to link their illness or disease to their occupation, so it’s essential to understand how Montana’s workers’ compensation system works and hire an attorney to represent your best interests.
Does workers’ comp cover illnesses and diseases?
Yes. Most occupational illnesses and diseases are covered by workers’ compensation in Montana. To receive occupational disease compensation, individuals must prove a direct link between their disease or illness and their employment.
If a worker is denied benefits, it’s wise to seek legal help from a Montana workers’ compensation lawyer. To file a claim for an occupational disease, injured workers must inform their employer within 1 year of the date of discovery.
What occupational diseases are covered by workers’ compensation?
Not all illnesses and diseases are covered by workers’ compensation, though most conditions are so long as the employee can prove they became ill or developed a disease as a direct result of their employment.
Employees must prove 2 factors to qualify for benefits:
- The illness or disease was caused by conditions that are normal for and characteristic of their employment field. (For instance, coal dust causes lung cancer and is directly linked to being a coal miner.)
- The disease is not an ordinary part of life that everyone is exposed to, such as COVID-19.
Injuries can happen on any job in Montana, though some industries are more dangerous than others. The following are some of the most common occupational diseases and illnesses:
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that causes mild to moderate pain in the hands and wrists. This condition can also cause numbness and loss of function. In severe cases, surgery is required to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition often occurs because of repetitive movement.
Back injuries are one of the most common occupational injuries. Back pain can arise from slipped or herniated discs. It can also be caused by broken bones. Sometimes, back pain can cause debilitation. Back issues are often the result of heavy lifting.
Unfortunately, cancer is a danger in some industries. Exposure to certain types of chemicals in the workplace can lead to cancer. One of the most common occupational cancers is lung cancer.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
PTSD can result from either ongoing stress or an isolated incident. Some occupations tend to have a higher incidence of PTSD, such as police and EMTs.
Hearing loss can be devastating, especially when it’s caused by a person’s job. Working around heavy and loud machinery can cause problems with a person’s hearing that become permanent.
Musculoskeletal disorders are also common injuries among workers. These may include:
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Thoracic outlet compression
- Ligament and tendon sprains
- Broken bones
There are 3 types of burns. First-degree burns only produce redness and swelling. Second-degree burns produce blistering. Third-degree burns extend through several layers of tissue, often down to the bone, and can be life-threatening. Burns most commonly affect restaurant workers, firefighters, and those who work with chemicals.
Traumatic brain injuries
Brain injuries can range in severity. Whenever there is an open or closed head wound, brain injuries can occur. A person may suffer a brain injury after a fall or due to falling objects. Traumatic brain injuries can be life-altering and often require ongoing medical care.
What to do if you think you have an occupational disease or illness
If you believe your job has caused your disease or illness, it’s important to act promptly. First, seek immediate medical care to determine a diagnosis. A doctor should be able to tell you what caused the illness or disease.
After learning about your diagnosis, you should report it to your employer right away so your claim can be started. You only have 1 year to inform your employer of your doctor’s findings.
As an injured worker in Montana, you have the right to pursue fair workers’ compensation benefits for your occupational illnesses, diseases, and injuries. Unfortunately, injured workers are sometimes unfairly denied their benefits.
If your claim gets denied, reach out to an experienced Montana workers’ compensation lawyer right away. At Murphy Law Firm, our experienced attorneys can guide you through the process and help you get fair compensation for your work-related injury or illness. Don’t wait until it’s too late to file a claim.