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Great Falls Montana Law Blog

Are you at risk for mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that results from exposure to asbestos and affects the lungs, heart or abdomen. The disease is aggressive, incurable and often quickly fatal. Although a diagnosis of mesothelioma is rare, rates have been increasing over the years, reports the CDC.

Therefore, it is important to know the risk factors so you can recognize if you are in danger of developing or have already developed this cancer. If so, speak to a lawyer about your options.

Can construction contractors receive workplace accident compensation?

Construction jobs are very dangerous. The likelihood of accidents and injury are much higher on those job sites, as is the risk of death. As a contractor in the Great Falls area, you get to pick and choose which construction sites you work on. This flexibility makes it easier for you to avoid working for employers that may not be in the habit of staying in complete compliance with federal workplace safety regulations. Your employment designation also means that in the event of a workplace accident, you may have to work a little harder to secure compensation. 

Being a contractor does not mean you are not entitled to file a claim against an employer. You do not have to be a direct employee to have access to many of the same federal protections as W-2 wage earners. Here is some information that can help improve the outcome of your injury claim. 

3 serious construction site hazards

If you work in the construction industry, you are well aware that it is often physically demanding and risky. Accidents and hazards on construction sites can leave you with severe injuries and illnesses. In fact, the fatality rate is higher for the construction industry than the national average for all industries, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 

But what exactly causes these injuries and illnesses? It is crucial to get familiar with common construction risks so that you can identify anything you are suffering from and avoid other injuries. Read below to learn about the most common causes of construction injuries or sicknesses. 

What are some common workplace violations?

Many workplaces in the Great Falls area have safety risks. Those issues do not necessarily mean that they are unsafe places for you to work. It means that some employers may have to take more steps than others to keep you and your coworkers safe. 

Workplace safety violations do not just have the potential to affect your work performance. They can also affect your physical and mental health. An accident caused by a workplace violation can also leave you disabled and unable to work. Learn about some common workplace safety violations so you can protect yourself against them. 

A workplace injury does not always mean workers' compensation

When most people think of a workplace injury, they tend to assume that means filing a workers' compensation claim. Unfortunately, Montana's workers' comp system often fails to deliver adequate benefits. While workers' injuries or conditions often leave them with lasting health problems and ongoing financial losses, they typically do not receive even half of what they need to cover treatments and make ends meet.

Because workers' compensation is not likely to cover what you need, you should speak with your attorney about other options before accepting a workers' comp settlement. You may discover you have other types of legal recourse.

What should you do about workplace safety violations?

Unfortunately, Montana employers do not always prioritize their workers' safety. In some cases, workers sustain serious injuries or develop severe health conditions because their employer or supervisor decided to put profits ahead of compliance with safety laws.

If you notice unsafe practices at work, you may face a dilemma. On one hand, speaking up can ultimately create a safer workplace for everyone. On the other, many employees fear their employers will try to get back at them for "making trouble."

The ongoing legal battle against asbestos in Montana

Long-term breathing of the fibers contained in asbestos can cause very serious diseases, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. It also causes cancer of the larynx, pharynx, colorectum, stomach and ovary. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, older houses in Montana continue to contain asbestos derived from earlier mining days.

The Montana Standard reports that the Environmental Protection Agency may not be alerting thousands of homeowners potentially at risk of the dangers of asbestos lurking still in their homes as quickly as many would want. It notes that the CDC and the EPA have studies confirming that asbestos had a role in more than 480 deaths in Libby, Montana, and surrounding areas. Moreover, those suffering from asbestos related symptomology exceed 8,000 people. Jean Pfau, an immunologist at MSU in Bozeman, Montana, connects rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other conditions to asbestosis as well.

When miners get injured at work

Mining counts among some of the most dangerous occupations. Federal and state agencies have therefore invested significant effort into planning and implementing safety rules to reduce risks.

Some elements of mining contain inherent risks that cannot be just eliminated. Miners work with heavy equipment and machinery, in areas potentially facing hazards from natural sources such as gas or collapsing rock. When everyone involved, from company owners to workers, follows safety guidelines, these risks can decrease.

Filing a third-party claim for a Montana workplace injury

If you suffer a serious, debilitating injury while on the job in Montana, you may have to modify your entire life. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may end up needing a lifetime of medical care, and this can ruin your finances in addition to the physical pain you already must endure.

Many of Montana’s biggest industries, among them logging, farming and mining, employ professionals like you in positions that are inherently dangerous. This means that many workers ultimately suffer a serious injury at some point during their professional lives. Should you do the same, you may, depending on the specific circumstances of your situation, be able to seek compensation from a third party for your injuries. You may make your living doing something that is known to be risky, but that does not mean others do not have a responsibility to greatly minimize those risks.  

What to know about traumatic brain injuries

When you think of injuries, broken bones and lacerations may first come to mind. However, another common but sometimes less noticeable one is a traumatic brain injury, or TBI.

A TBI is brain damage that occurs due to head trauma from shaking, internal bleeding, skull fractures, sudden jolts, blows or penetration. A common type of TBI is a concussion. If you experience any sort of head trauma, this is what you need to know.

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Kovacich Snipes, P.C.
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Great Falls, MT 59401

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