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Workers' Compensation

Missoula Montana Workers Compensation Attorney

You need a Montana workers compensation lawyer on your side when dealing with an on-the-job injury. You need Bulman Jones & Cook PLLC. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury at work, you should receive workers comp benefits from your employer or their insurer. Bulman Jones & Cook PLLC accepts cases statewide throughout Montana. Contact us for a free consultation with an experienced attorney, call today.

Montana’s Workers Compensation involves a legal mountain of statutes, regulations and procedural rules that govern the benefits an injured worker is entitled to and how those benefits are paid. These laws also specify the complex procedure to be followed when there is a dispute between the injured worker and the employer or their Workers Compensation insurance company.

You can bet your employer and the insurance company know these complex guidelines inside and out. They also know that working through the statutes and rules is confusing and frustrating for the injured party – you. They use this to their advantage to make sure they pay as little benefits or settlement to you as possible.

The Workers Compensation lawyers at Bulman Jones & Cook PLLC will work on your behalf to protect your rights and make sure you receive the benefits you are entitled to. We know how employers and Workers Compensation insurance companies operate. If you or someone you know has been injured at work, and you are looking for a skilled attorney that will lead you through the insurance roadblocks, please contact our office as soon as possible to set up a Free Consultation.

Workers Compensation Benefits

All employers in Montana must carry Workers Compensation insurance. As in other states, the Workers Comp system in Montana is a no-fault system that compensates injured workers for medical bills, lost wages, and permanent impairments resulting from their injuries. To take advantage of these benefits, injured workers must follow certain procedures required by Montana law.

Workers Compensation provides benefits in five basic categories:

  1. Medical care payments, for doctor and hospital treatments for your injury.

  2. Temporary disability payments, to cover part of your lost wages if you must take time off to recover.

  3. Permanent disability payments, to help you support yourself and your family if you do not recover sufficiently to return to work.

  4. Supplemental job displacement benefits, if you need to retrain for a new job because your injuries prevent you from going back to your previous job.

  5. Death benefits for your family, if you lose your life due to your injuries.

Who is Eligible for Workers Comp Benefits?

Workers Compensation covers all injuries that happen while you are performing your work duties or running work errands. Injuries that occur while you are off duty are generally not covered through Workers Compensation. For example, if you were injured during your lunch break or during your commute to and from work, you will typically not be covered by Workers Comp.

Workers Compensation covers both Traumatic Injuries and occupational illnesses. Traumatic Injuries result from a one-time accident at work, such as a broken bone from a Slip and Fall Accident. Occupational diseases are injuries or illnesses that occur over a period of time, including injuries caused by repetitive movements at work (such as carpal tunnel syndrome) and illnesses developed from exposure to Toxic Substances at the workplace (such as cancer from exposure to Asbestos).

Delayed Claims

When dealing with a Workers Compensation or Personal Injury case, time is of the essence. The Montana legal system requires you to quickly report your injuries and pursue compensation from the responsible party. Any delay in reporting a work-related injury, or pursuing compensation from the party responsible for your injury, could result in a costly delay for your case.

Sometimes it is difficult for an injury victim to respond quickly. You may be unsure of what to do, or be so focused on recovering from the physical and mental stresses that come with Personal Injury that you fail to take the necessary actions to move your case along. Delays in Montana’s Workers Comp claims are also often caused when an employer or insurance claims adjuster has not acted in a timely manner.

Delayed Claims Attorney in Missoula, Montana

If your Workers Compensation or Personal Injury case has been delayed or stalled for any reason, contact Bulman, Jones & Cook PLLC as soon as possible. Our Expert Legal Team will answer your questions for free. Don’t waste another moment that can delay your case even further. Call us today to schedule your Free Consultation. We will help get your delayed case back on track so you can get the financial compensation you deserve.

Denied Claims

If your Montana Workers Comp claim has been denied, or you have a dispute with the insurance company about your benefits, you can challenge the insurance company’s decision. Below is an explanation of how the process works and what you need to do to initiate your appeal.

Requesting Mediation

Before you can request a hearing about your case, you must first try to resolve the dispute with the insurance company. This is a two-step process. You must send a letter to the insurance company explaining why you disagree with its decision and what you believe you are entitled to. If the insurance company denies your request or fails to respond within 15 days, you must move on to the next step: a mediation conference.

Mediation conferences are mandatory in most Montana Workers Compensation cases. To request mediation, you must file a Petition for Mediation Conference with the Mediation Unit of the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.

During mediation, a neutral third party (called a mediator) will have a conference call with you and the insurance company to try to facilitate a settlement agreement. The mediator does not make a decision in your case, but they will issue a recommended solution. You or the insurance company are free to reject the recommendation and proceed to a Workers Compensation hearing.

Petition for Workers Compensation Hearing

If mediation is not successful, you may request a hearing before a Workers Compensation judge. You must file a Petition for Hearing with the Montana Workers Compensation Court within two (2) years after your benefits were denied. Once the court receives your petition, it will schedule your case for a hearing and notify you of the date, time, and location.

Before your hearing, you will have a pretrial conference. This is an opportunity for the judge to review your case, identify the issues in dispute, and go over the evidence to be presented at the hearing. At the hearing, each side will have an opportunity to present witnesses, submit documents, and make legal arguments. The Workers Comp judge will review all of the evidence and make a written decision in your case.

Appeal to Montana Supreme Court

If you disagree with the judge’s opinion, you can appeal to the Montana Supreme Court. The judge’s order will explain the deadline and how to file your appeal. The Supreme Court will review the judge’s order and decide whether to uphold it.

Fight for Just Compensation

THEY CAN HELP

Appealing a Montana Workers Compensation Denial

While you are allowed to represent yourself in the appeals process, you should consider hiring a Workers Compensation Attorney. The appeals process requires detailed knowledge of Montana Workers Compensation law and procedural rules, especially when it comes to Workers Compensation hearings and court appeals.

The workers' compensation experts at Bulman, Jones & Cook PLLC are familiar with the complex Montana Workers Compensation system and the complicated process. We will aggressively represent you to get the medical treatment and the financial benefits that are rightfully yours. Contact us immediately, to schedule your Free Consultation. Our lawyers will answer your questions and tell you if you have a case. Call us today.

Employer Responsibility

Your employer has several responsibilities when it comes to Workers Compensation and coverage for your injuries. First, your employer is required to get and keep Workers Compensation coverage for all the business’s employees. Your employer is responsible for paying Workers Compensation premiums, and may not take money out of your pay to help cover Workers Compensation costs.

If you are injured on the job, your employer must give you the appropriate forms to file a claim within one working day. Once you return the completed forms, your employer must forward them to the claims administrator and authorize up to $10,000 in medical payments for the treatment of your injuries. If you can do some work while recovering, your employer is also required to provide transitional or “light duty” work that you can do while your injury heals.

If your employer is required by law to have Workers Compensation coverage, but does not, you have the right to file a civil lawsuit against your employer in addition to seeking Workers Comp coverage.

Helping Montana’s Working Voices Be Heard

Experienced Missoula Workers Compensation attorney Bradley J. Jones is dedicated to helping injured workers navigate the Montana Workers Compensation system, getting you the compensation you need. With extensive experience and knowledge of Workers Comp law in Montana, Bulman, Jones & Cook PLLC will protect your rights and keep you up to speed on the progress of your case every step of the way. Call us today for a Free Consultation.

Permanent Disability Benefits

If you are completely unable to work after reaching maximum medical improvement, you can receive permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. These benefits are paid at the same rate as temporary total disability benefits and end once you become eligible for Social Security retirement benefits.

If you are able to work after reaching Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), but you still have a permanent impairment, you may be eligible for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. You can receive a PPD award if you have more than a minor impairment or if you have suffered an actual wage loss due to your impairment. The amount of your award depends on the impairment rating assigned by your doctor and the extent of your wage loss.

Social Security Disability

More than 60 percent (60%) of Montana Social Security Disability applicants are denied during the initial stage of the application process. These applicants must then go on to appeal the Social Security Administration’s decision to deny their disability benefits; a process that takes some Montana residents more than two years to complete.

The first stage of the disability appeals process is called a Request for Reconsideration. In the State of Montana, fewer than 15 percent (15%) of these requests are granted by the Social Security Administration. The remaining 85 percent (85%) of applicants must go further into the appeals process and request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. While nearly two-thirds of disability applicants will be awarded benefits as a result of this hearing, it can take quite a while for the hearing to be scheduled.

In the State of Montana, it can take more than a year to be scheduled for a Social Security Disability hearing. It then takes another 45 to 90 days after the hearing to be notified as to whether or not the judge presiding over your disability case decided in your favor. The reason for the extensive wait times required for disability hearings has to do with the backlog of disability cases in the Social Security system.

The agency responsible for scheduling disability hearings is the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). The area that you live in determines which ODAR office handles your disability case. The particular backlog of that ODAR office will determine how long you will have to wait for your disability hearing to be scheduled.

Hiring a Montana Social Security Disability Attorney

It takes three to four months to be denied during the initial stage of the Social Security Disability application process. It then takes another three to four months to complete the first stage of disability appeals. Because of this, most Montana Social Security Disability applicants are eight months into the disability claim process before they even have the chance to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.

It’s easy to understand that Montana Social Security Disability applicants want to know if there is anything they can do to avoid the lengthy Social Security Disability appeal process. In some cases, the services of a Qualified Montana Social Security Lawyer can help.

At Bulman, Jones & Cook PLLC, our Missoula Social Security Disability attorneys will work with you to ensure that your disability claim is submitted in the best possible light to the Social Security Administration and work to gather the medical evidence necessary to support your claim for disability benefits. If your disability application is denied by the Social Security Administration, we will work with you in the pursuit of your disability appeal.

If your application for Social Security Disability benefits is denied by the Social Security Administration, you will more than likely have to make an appearance before an administrative law judge at a disability hearing. While you are legally allowed to represent yourself at this hearing, retaining the services of a qualified Montana Social Security Disability attorney can increase your chances of a successful hearing outcome.

If you would like to learn more about hiring a Montana Social Security Disability lawyer, call Bulman, Jones & Cook PLLC to speak to an attorney.

Temporary Disability Benefits

Montana provides temporary total disability (TTD) benefits to workers who are unable to work while recovering from their injuries. These benefits are two-thirds of your gross wages at the time of your accident, up to a maximum set by law each year. As of July 1, 2016, the maximum weekly benefit is $756. TTD benefits are available until you return to work or until a doctor finds that your condition has improved as much as it is going to (called maximum medical improvement).

If you are able to work during this time, but you are earning less due to your injuries, you can receive temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits. TPD benefits are the difference between your actual earnings and your average weekly wage at the time of your accident, subject to the same weekly maximum described above.

Who is Covered?

Employees in Montana are covered by Workers Compensation if they suffer an injury on the job. The injury may be a one-time occurrence, such as a broken leg caused by a Slip and Fall Injury or Serious Burns suffered in an Industrial Accident. The injury may also be caused over time by repeated forces, like wrist injuries from using the same tools for months or years, or hearing loss caused by repeated loud noises. Both types of injuries are eligible for Workers Compensation coverage.

In order to be covered by Workers Compensation, you must be an employee, not an independent contractor. When deciding who is considered an employee, courts look at a number of factors:

  • How you are paid

  • Whether your boss deducts taxes from your paycheck

  • Where you work and when

  • What tools your boss supplies or requirements your boss places on your work

Missoula Workers Compensation Lawyer

If you or a loved one has suffered a workplace injury and you want to discuss your legal options, contact Bulman, Jones & Cook PLLC to schedule a Free Consultation. Bradley J. Jones is a Board Certified attorney. To schedule a Free Consultation with Bulman, Jones & Cook PLLC, contact us today by filling out our Online Contact Form or giving us a call locally in Missoula.