According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 2.9 million workplace accidents occurred in 2016. Although certain professions have a higher rate of accidents, workplace accidents can happen in almost any job. They can occur in many different ways, some of which are negligent co-workers or executives.
If you have suffered an injury in a workplace accident in Montana, you may be eligible to file a claim. Contact the Montana workplace injury attorneys at Kovacich Snipes Johnson, P.C. for guidance and experienced representation.
Who Is Liable for My Workplace Accident in Montana?
The common solution for workplace accidents is workers’ compensation. Montana law requires employers to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. Workers’ compensation will cover most cases of workplace injuries but usually keeps employees from being able to file a lawsuit against their employer.
There are a number of benefits that Montana workers’ compensation can provide. The most basic benefit is medical care. The medical care benefit means that your workers’ compensation will cover the expenses for any medical attention or surgery that you needed because of the injury. Workers’ compensation can also give you temporary total or temporary partial disability benefits. Temporary total disability benefits are for people whose injuries are severe enough to keep them from any work for a certain period. Temporary partial disability is for people whose injuries prevent them from being able to work for the same level of compensation.
Workers’ compensation could also give you permanent partial or permanent total disability. Permanent partial disability is for people who suffer permanent damage and wage loss even though they can return to work eventually. Permanent total disability is for injured workers who can no longer go back to work.
The final two Montana workers’ compensation benefits are rehabilitation benefits and death benefits. Rehabilitation benefits are for people whose injuries require long-term rehabilitation to help them return to the workforce. Death benefits are for families who lost a loved one to a workplace accident.
In certain situations, a workplace accident warrants a personal injury claim instead of, or in addition to, workers’ compensation. Employees can file personal injury claims if their injuries happened due to the negligence a third party – a product manufacturer or another business for example. While workers’ compensation is available to any worker injured on the job, negligence and liability must be established in these types of claims. To prove negligence, you must show that the third party had a duty, failed to complete that duty, and that the third party’s failure was the direct cause of your injury.
If you file a personal injury claim and win your case, the court could award you a variety of damages. The most basic damage is medical expenses. Medical expenses include any money that you had to spend for medical attention that you needed because of the workplace injury. The court could also order the defendant to compensate you for lost wages. Lost wages account for money that you lost because of days you needed off work to recover or a difference in earning capacity if your salary potential dropped because of the injury. The court can also award you damages for pain and suffering. Pain and suffering covers emotional and mental trauma that the injury caused you. Pain and suffering can be more difficult to quantify, so many courts will ask that the plaintiff provide people who can testify about the mental and emotional state of the victim before and after the incident.
What Do I Do After a Workplace Accident?
After a workplace accident, it is important to act quickly. The first thing you should do is make an accident report. Montana, like all other states, has a statute of limitations that only gives you a certain amount of time between the incident and the time that you file before you are no longer eligible. See a doctor as soon as possible so that you can learn the extent of your injuries when you apply for workers’ compensation or file a personal injury claim. You or your employer may file your workers’ compensation claim with the insurance company so be sure to report your injury as soon as you become aware of it. Though most agencies accept and process workers’ compensation applications without issues, you may have trouble with your employer. Consult a Montana workplace injury attorney if you are having trouble with your workers’ compensation.
Industrial Workplace Accidents
Industrial jobs can be extremely dangerous professions. The heavy machinery can cause serious injuries to anyone who works with it, especially if there are malfunctioning parts or poor maintenance. The most common types of industrial injuries are amputations, head injuries, neck injuries, back and spinal cord injuries, burns, and eye injuries. Some industrial injuries can lead to permanent disability. For example, workers who injure their spinal cord could end up paralyzed from the neck down, an injury that would change their life significantly and permanently.
There are a few general causes of industrial accidents. The first general cause of industrial accidents is an unsafe condition. Unsafe conditions could include defective tools, malfunctioning equipment, defective machinery, and unsafe materials. Malfunctioning equipment is the reason for about one-third of industrial accidents. If an industrial workplace has unsafe conditions, workers can suffer injuries that are out of their control.
Another thing that can cause an industrial accident is an unsafe act. Unsafe acts are accidents that occur because a worker was being irresponsible or unreasonable.
Some examples of unsafe acts include:
- Operating machines without authority
- Not wearing the proper safety equipment
- Throwing materials around carelessly
- Working too fast or too slow
- Using equipment incorrectly
- Removing safety devices
- Standing under suspended, unsteady loads
- Distracting, teasing, fighting, horseplay, or day-dreaming
- Accident-prone behavior
Some other possible causes of industrial workplace accidents include excessive noise, unreasonably high temperatures, humid conditions, unhealthy environments, slippery floors, excessive glare, excessive dust or fumes, and inferior supervisors.
Crane Workplace Accidents
Cranes are some of the largest, heaviest pieces of machinery that workers regularly use around the country. They are extremely dangerous for many reasons. Electrical hazards are a serious risk for crane operators. If a crane accidentally contacts a power line, the crane operator could die, and others could suffer serious harms. Construction sites using a crane must clearly mark nearby power lines before the crane arrives at the site.
Overloading can also lead to crane accidents. It is one of the most common circumstances for crane accidents. Some operators will rely on their personal judgment instead of taking the time to check the weight of the load. Manufacturers design newer cranes to hold heavier loads in an effort to reduce the number of overloading accidents that occur on worksites.
Cranes are often moving materials at extreme heights. There is always the risk that materials will fall out of the crane’s grasp and fall on a worker. More than 20 people died in 2002 because of workers not securing material correctly and those materials falling from the crane onto someone below. Depending on the load, materials falling on someone from above could be serious, even fatal. Industrial workers must wear headgear to protect them if something falls.
Hazardous weather is another condition that can be dangerous for crane operation. Though cranes can withstand a large amount of pressure and damage, they are not invincible. Like any pieces of machinery, cranes will break or snap after a certain amount of damage from poor weather conditions. Wind is especially dangerous. Strong winds can make the arm of a crane swing around, increasing the likelihood that the operator will lose control of the crane or that something will fall from the crane’s grasp. The wind becomes stronger the higher you go, so the force of the wind is even more impactful from the height where a crane is operating. It is important that workers pay attention to the weather conditions and the size of the load so that they can accurately determine whether it is safe to operate the crane.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 401 farmers and farm workers died in farm accidents in 2015, amounting to a fatality rate of 19.2 deaths per 100,000 workers. Farm accidents are unique because the fatalities and injuries can affect multiple people in one family. Many farms are family-run, putting everyone in the family at risk for injury. Between 1995 and 2002, an average of 113 deaths occurred among teenagers on farms younger than 20 years old. Teens between the ages of 16 and 19 accounted for the 113 youth fatalities. Regarding injuries to youth, the leading cause was machinery such as tractors at 23% of teenage deaths. Of them, 19% involved motor vehicles such as ATVs. Drowning was responsible for 16% of the teenage deaths on farms.
Tractors flipping or rolling caused the largest number of farm injuries. Many farmers and farm workers also suffer injuries from falling structures and materials such as grain bins, ladders, or haymows. Other farmers and farm workers suffered injuries because of entanglements with machinery. Many farms utilize pieces of large, complicated machinery that can be extremely dangerous for people who need to work with them. Some farmers and farm workers suffer suffocation. Suffocation occurs when workers are stuck in grain bins or silos or when they are working in an environment with excessive fumes and low oxygen levels.
Contact Our Montana Workplace Accidents Attorneys at Kovacich Snipes Johnson, P.C. Today!
If you have suffered an injury at work, no matter what your occupation, you may be eligible to receive compensation. Contact the injury attorneys at Kovacich Snipes Johnson, P.C. for help determining whether you should request workers’ compensation or file a claim against a third party. Our Montana workplace injury lawyers can offer you dedicated and experienced representation and will fight to get you the compensation that you deserve.