Terrazas Henkel, P.C.

Missoula Personal Injury Law Blog

SSDI and SSI Are Not the Same

If you've ever been mistaken for a sibling or a family member, you'll understand why people tend to get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) confused or lumped together.

You Were Injured at Work. Now What?

When someone is injured at work, it can feel as though there are a thousand questions that suddenly need answers.

First and foremost, most people tend to worry about how they'll pay their rent or mortgage, feed their families, and continue paying for their primary living expenses. If they can't work, where will the money come from?

Many people in Montana live paycheck to paycheck, and missing work due to an injury just isn't something they can afford. That's where workers' compensation comes in.

There's a general awareness in society about workers' compensation laws, but those regulations are specific to each state. At its most basic level, workers' compensation is a form of insurance to provide wage replacement and medical benefits for workers who are injured at work.

Here in Montana, workers' compensation cases are on the rise. According to the Workers' Compensation Court in Helena, there were 288 workers' compensation petitions received in 2018, up from 243 in 2017 and 208 in 2016.

Does Montana follow the one bite rule?

While domesticated dogs have proven themselves to be good companions to people in Missoula, the fact that they are still animals (and thus subject to animal instincts) cannot be forgotten. A dog bite can cause injuries that can cause that can leave you facing inordinate medical expenses. Given that the dog that bit you is technically the property of another, you might assume that the dog owner would then be liable for your injuries. Is that truly the case? 

Some might tell you that the law recognizes a "one bite rule." Simply put, the one bite rule allows a dog owner to escape liability when their animal attacks a person if the owner had no reason to believe that their animal had vicious tendencies (essentially allowing the dog one bite before the owner would be held responsible). While some states do indeed follow the one-bite rule philosophy, Montana is not one of them. 

What kind of burns can you suffer in a car crash?

Driving on Montana's roads can be tricky in any type of weather, but driving on wet, icy or snowy roads is even more dangerous. Unfortunately, the number of car crashes always increases every winter.

Some of the worst types of crashes are those involving fire. If you become the victim of one of these fiery crashes, the American Burn Association advises that you may well receive four types of burns as follows:

  1. Thermal burns from the fire's flames themselves or from one of your car's many surfaces that can heat up and burn you during a fire
  2. Scald burns from any hot liquid your body comes into contact with, including gasoline and spilled coffee or other hot drinks
  3. Chemical burns from any of your car's corrosive fluids, including transmission fluid, antifreeze, steering fluid, etc.
  4. Electrical burns from your car's electrical wires or, worse yet, a downed power line

Western Montana sees multiple crashes due to winter weather

Although people in Montana are familiar with snow, ice and other winter weather conditions, not everyone in the state takes the roadway hazards these conditions can create as seriously as they should, and accidents can result. Due to storms that passed through the area approximately a week and a half ago, emergency crews in western Montana have had their hands full with a number of crashes that have caused either partial or complete highway closings on a temporary basis.

Several of these crashes occurred along Interstate 90. In the Bonner area, near mile marker 110, there was an accident with injuries late last Wednesday morning that blocked one of the eastbound lanes, prompting the issuance of a MEANS alert throughout Missoula County. At about the same time, though further west near mile marker 90, a one-vehicle crash also necessitated the closure of one lane of the interstate. A jackknifed semi truck blocked the left lane 3 1/2 miles west of St. Regis, and there were also crashes reported at mile markers 27, 37, 50, 99 and 105. 

Understanding who can file a wrongful death lawsuit

While loss is often viewed as a normal part of life, that may do little to assuage the grief of those in Missoula who suffer through the deaths of family members and friends. Your gown grief over the loss of a loved one may be compounded even further if their death was unexpected. If it is later discovered that their loss was due to another's negligence, then you may be justified in your desires to hold that party financially responsible through a wrongful death lawsuit. Many in your same position have come to us here at Terrazas Henkel PC ready to initiate such action, only to then learn that it is not a privilege afforded to all. 

Montana's wrongful death statute can be found in Section 27-1-513 of the state's Annotated Code. It states that only a decedent's personal representative can file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. The reason for this requirement is that any award that may come as the result of such an action is typically given to the decedent's estate. As the personal representative is responsible for the administration of the estate, the job of initiating a wrongful death action would also fall to them. 

Respondeat superior in premises liability cases

Most hold two common assumptions regarding the matter of liability: that property owners are responsible for what happens on their properties, and that individuals are responsible for their own actions. Yet what about when the two concepts merge? If you are injured by a person whose is an employee or agent of the owner of the property in Missoula the incident occurred on, who then would be responsible? Many have come to us here at Terrazas Henkel PC with this very question. Unfortunately, there may not be an easy answer to it. 

A legal principle exists known as "respondeat superior." Directly translated from Latin, this means "let the master answer." According to the Cornell Law School, respondeat superior holds employers liable for the action of their employees. However, said actions must be considered to be within the scope of an employee's job functions in order to apply this principle to your case. A good example to help demonstrate this distinction might be the actions of a security guard. The nature of such a job might require confrontation, yet given that is what the employer is expecting, then it might be assumed that it is prepared to accept responsibility. 

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Terrazas Henkel, P.C.
1923 South Higgins Avenue
PO Box 9077
Missoula, MT 59807

Phone: 406-541-2550
Fax: 406-541-2553
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