Workers’ Compensation Myths Debunked: Protecting Your Rights in Montana

Workers’ Compensation Myths Debunked: Protecting Your Rights in Montana

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Miller Tourtlotte Law

May 28, 2024

If you’ve been injured on the job in Montana, understanding your rights to workers’ compensation is crucial. Unfortunately, several myths surround this system, creating confusion and preventing injured workers from receiving the benefits they deserve. Let’s tackle these myths head-on and set the record straight so you can protect your well-being and financial security.

Myth 1: I Can’t File a Claim if I Was Partially at Fault

  • Reality: Montana’s workers’ compensation system operates on a no-fault basis. This means your eligibility for benefits is not dependent on who caused the accident. Even if you were partly responsible for your injury, you may still be entitled to compensation.

Myth 2: I Can Only Get Workers’ Comp for Major Injuries

  • Reality: Don’t underestimate the value of reporting and seeking compensation for even seemingly minor injuries. Workers’ compensation can cover a wide range of injuries, from minor cuts and sprains to severe disabilities. Reporting all injuries, no matter how small, protects your rights in the event of complications or a worsening condition down the line.

Myth 3: My Employer Will Fire Me if I File a Claim

  • Reality: Montana law explicitly prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who file legitimate workers’ compensation claims. This includes firing, demotion, harassment, or any other adverse action. Your job security is protected when you exercise your right to seek compensation for work-related injuries.

Myth 4: I Have to Use the Doctor My Employer Chooses

  • Reality: This is not widely known, but prior to your claim being accepted, you actually have say in deciding who your treating physician is.  After acceptance, though, your employer’s insurance company may have the right to choose your treating physician. However, Montana law provides you with options to change doctors if you are dissatisfied with their care or you need a specialist.

Myth 5: Workers’ Compensation Only Covers Medical Bills

  • Reality: While medical expenses are a major component of workers’ compensation benefits, the system offers much more. You may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, temporary or permanent disability benefits, vocational rehabilitation, and even death benefits for families of workers killed on the job.

Myth 6: All Workers’ Comp Claims are Quickly Approved

  • Reality: The claims process can be complex and lengthy. Insurance companies may deny or dispute claims, and appealing these decisions requires navigating legal procedures. Seeking the help of an experienced attorney can significantly increase your chances of receiving fair and timely compensation.

Myth 7: I Don’t Need a Lawyer for a Workers’ Comp Claim

  • Reality: The Montana Workers’ Compensation system was designed to be self-executing, meaning injured workers could navigate the claim process without legal representation. However, despite legislators’ good intentions, this approach clashes with the practical realities of the situation.  While you can technically file and handle a claim on your own, it’s strongly recommended to seek legal representation. The statutes within Montana Workers’ Compensation Act are lengthy, dense, and not exactly reader-friendly.  A skilled workers’ compensation attorney understands the intricacies of the law, can help you build a strong case, negotiate with insurance companies, and ensure your rights are protected throughout the process.

Myth 8: If I Accept a Settlement, I Can’t Pursue Further Action

  • Reality: Some workers’ compensation settlements are final, but others leave open the possibility for future medical benefits. It’s crucial to understand the terms of any settlement you’re considering and seek legal advice before making a decision that could impact your long-term health and financial security.

Myth 9: Workers’ Compensation Claims Are Only for “Accidents”

  • Reality: While traumatic injuries are covered, workers’ compensation also extends to occupational diseases. These are illnesses or conditions that develop over time due to workplace exposures, such as repetitive strain injuries, hearing loss, lung disease, or certain cancers.

Myth 10: I Can’t File a Claim if My Injury Occurred a While Ago

  • Reality: While it’s best to report your injury immediately, you may still have a valid claim even if some time has passed. However, strict deadlines apply, and waiting too long could jeopardize your rights. Contact an attorney as soon as possible to assess your situation.

Miller Tourtlotte Law is Here to Help

If you’ve been injured at work, don’t let these myths deter you from pursuing the compensation you deserve. Contact Miller Tourtlotte Law today for a free consultation. We’ll help you understand your rights, navigate the complexities of workers’ compensation, and fight for the full benefits you’re entitled to.

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