Minnesota Workers’ Compensation
In Minnesota, almost all workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in the event that they are hurt at work. If you are a Minnesota worker, and you sustain an injury that arises out of, and in the course and scope of your employment, you may be entitled to a variety of benefits, including:
- Temporary total disability
- Temporary partial disability
- Permanent total disability
- Permanent partial disability
- Rehabilitation and retraining benefits
- Medical expense benefits
Every case is unique, and often involves different types of benefits. Depending on the nature of your injury and how and where it occurred, you may also have a personal injury or civil claim. If you are a police officer, firefighter, corrections officer or other state, county, or city employee, you may also be entitled to PERA or MSRS disability benefits in addition to your benefits under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act.
The attorneys at Meuser Law Office are well versed in the complexities in each of these distinct areas of law and understand how they interrelate to ensure that you receive every benefit and all the compensation to which you are entitled.
We Will Protect Your Best Interests — And Won’t Leave Money on the Table
Even in cases where your employer and their workers’ compensation insurance company initially admit primary liability, or acknowledge responsibility for your injury, a dispute may arise regarding your entitlement to medical care, wage loss benefits, rehabilitation benefits, or permanency benefits at any point in time. Unfortunately, in the vast majority of cases, it’s not a matter of if a dispute will arise; it’s a matter of when a dispute will arise. Having a skilled Minnesota workers’ compensation attorney on your side before a dispute arises may help you avoid making mistakes on your case and ensure that you obtain all that you are entitled to under the law. At Meuser Law Office, we encourage you to contact us before a problem arises. We will monitor your case to make sure your benefits are being paid correctly, help you navigate the complex workers’ compensation system, and be prepared to immediately jump in if and when a dispute develops.
The Minnesota workers’ compensation system is a specialized, complex area of law. Attempting to navigate the system on your own when there’s a dispute on your case, or hiring a general practice lawyer that doesn’t regularly handle workers’ compensation cases, can cost you significant sums of money and/or important future benefits to which you may otherwise be entitled. Our experienced attorneys will guide you through the litigation process and help you obtain the best possible result on your workers’ compensation claim.
When we meet with new clients, they are often surprised to learn that they have been underpaid benefits, that the insurer has simply failed to pay certain benefits, or that they have been given incorrect advice. Don’t rely on the insurance company to give you legal advice, to educate you about your rights, or to act in your best interest. We can help you get all of the Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to. We can also help you explore your options, such as settling your case or filing a claim for additional benefits.
The workers’ compensation insurance company has a lawyer. It’s difficult to “play the game” when you don’t know the rules. At every turn, they will be looking for ways to minimize the amount of benefits they have to pay you. You can help level the playing field and protect your rights by having a skilled Minnesota workers’ compensation attorney from Meuser Law Office on your side.
Report your injury to your supervisor and ask him or her to complete a First Report of Injury. Seek medical care for your injury as soon as possible. Your employer may ask you to see one of their doctors for an initial examination, however you have the right to see your own doctor if you choose.
Tell your doctor you were injured at work, explain your symptoms, and ask him or her to provide you with work restrictions, if appropriate. Provide a copy of your work restrictions to your employer and follow your doctor’s recommendations for treatment.
Contact us for a free consultation to learn how to protect your rights. If your injury is serious, or you anticipate being out of work for an extended period of time, contact us sooner rather than later. Don’t wait until a dispute arises.
Even if you have a great relationship with your employer, you should consider speaking with an attorney. As a rule of thumb, even if your employer and their insurer accept your workers’ compensation claim, it’s generally not a matter of if they will deny your claim, but when. This is particularly true if your injury is serious, if you are going to be off work for an extended period of time, or if there is a question as to whether you will be able to return to work with your date-of-injury employer due to your injury. Don’t rely on your employer and their workers’ compensation insurer to “do the right thing.” It comes down to dollars and cents, and your employer and insurer will often look for ways to minimize what they have to pay on your claim. They are ultimately looking out for their own interests, leaving you to look out for your own.
The Minnesota Workers’ Compensation system is complicated. It’s easy to make mistakes that can cost you thousands of dollars and leave you without a job, without medical care, and without a source of income. Our experienced attorneys can help you navigate the system and ensure that your rights are protected.
Covered types of injuries include any type of injury, illness or condition that occurs at work or because of your work activities. This can include an aggravation or re-injury of a pre-existing condition. It can also include conditions or injuries that develop gradually over time, such as low back conditions, repetitive motion injuries, or carpal tunnel syndrome. Workers’ Compensation also covers illnesses that are contracted in the workplace or conditions that develop as a result of exposure to chemicals or toxins.
As the result of new Minnesota workers’ compensation legislation, effective October 1, 2013, post-traumatic stress disorder injuries that are the result of work-related exposures, are also covered in Minnesota.
Reasonable and necessary medical treatment and expenses to cure and/or relieve the effects of your injury.
Wage loss benefits, including temporary total disability benefits, temporary partial disability benefits, or permanent total disability benefits.
Permanent partial disability benefits.
Vocational rehabilitation services, retraining benefits, and/or the assistance of a Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant (QRC).
A Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant (QRC) provides professional rehabilitation services if you need help returning to work due to your injury. You have the right to choose your own QRC. If you do not, your employer and their insurer may choose one for you. It is important that you choose your own QRC to make sure your QRC is looking out for your best interests. We can help you select a QRC that you can trust. There are time limits that apply for requesting a QRC of your choice. If you have been contacted by a QRC that the insurer assigned to you, contact an attorney right away to preserve your right to select your own QRC.
The insurance company is not paying my medical bills or won’t approve the treatment I need. What do I do?
It’s common for workers’ compensation insurers to deny payment for certain types of medical treatment, such as chiropractic care or physical therapy. They may also refuse to authorize recommended treatment or procedures such as MRI’s or CT scans, a consultation with a specialist, or a recommended surgery. We can help you get your medical bills paid and the medical treatment you need.
If your employer cannot accommodate your restrictions, you may be entitled to wage loss benefits and/or the assistance of a Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant (QRC). Call us today to make sure you get the benefits you are entitled to until you can get back to work.
Even if your employer tells you that you’ve been laid off for economic reasons, or if you were fired for reasons your employer claims were other than your work injury, you may still be entitled to wage loss benefits, so long as you have physical restrictions that limit your ability to secure employment at an earning level comparable to the amount you were earning at the time of your injury. Regardless of the reasons for your employment ending, you are also entitled to medical treatment to cure or relieve the effects of the injury.
If you are earning less money as the result of a work-related injury, you may be entitled to temporary partial disability benefits, or two-thirds of the difference between what you were making at the time of your injury, and what you are earning now.
Once you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), your doctor will determine whether you have sustained a permanent partial disability (PPD). This is determined by assigning you a permanent partial disability rating based on the Minnesota workers’ compensation disability schedules. That percentage is then multiplied times a dollar value to determine the amount of your permanent partial disability benefit.
A payment for permanent partial disability does not constitute a “settlement” of your workers’ compensation case – there may be other additional benefits you are entitled to.
I’m not happy with my doctor or the doctor that my employer sent me to. Can I switch doctors or get a second opinion?
The Minnesota Workers’ Compensation system has specific rules that must be followed when changing doctors, otherwise the insurance company may not pay for the new doctor. These rules are complicated and depend on the specific circumstances of your case. We can help you change doctors.
It costs nothing out of pocket to hire a Minnesota workers’ compensation attorney. Like all workers’ compensation attorneys in Minnesota, we handle work comp cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay nothing if we do not recover benefits on your behalf. In Minnesota, attorney fees are set by law.
Effective October 1, 2013, workers’ compensation attorney fees in Minnesota are 20% of the monetary benefits we recover on your behalf, up to a maximum of $26,000.00 per injury. If your case involves disputes over your right to medical benefits or rehabilitation benefits, fees may be payable to us directly by the insurance company.
Follow your physician’s treatment recommendations and procure appropriate physical restrictions.
Save copies of all letters, forms, and checks from the insurance company, as well as copies of any medical bills that you receive.
Keep track of your mileage for vocational rehabilitation and medical visits.
Keep track of any expenses you pay for out of pocket, such as prescriptions, parking, or bus fare.
Keep your attorney updated as to any significant changes in your work status or your medical status.
I got a letter from the workers’ compensation insurance company scheduling me for an independent medical examination (IME). What does this mean?
The insurance company has scheduled you to be examined by a doctor hired by them. You generally do have to attend this appointment. This doctor will issue an opinion regarding the cause of your injury, the extent of your injury, your work restrictions, the date you reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), the extent of your permanent partial disability, and the reasonableness and necessity of your medical care.
These examinations are anything but “independent,” and with rare exception, the doctor’s opinion will give the insurance company a basis to dispute your claim. If you’ve been scheduled for an IME, you can be virtually certain that the insurance company is gearing up to fight your claim. If you do not already have an attorney, you should very seriously consider retaining one if you’ve been scheduled for an IME. We will help you fight back and ensure your rights are protected.
I received a Notice of Intent to Discontinue Benefits (NOID) from the insurance company. What should I do?
If you receive a Notice of Intent to Discontinue Benefits (NOID), the insurance company is trying to stop your wage loss benefits. You have a very limited time within which to object to the insurance company’s attempt to stop your benefits. Just because the insurance company says they are discontinuing your benefits does not mean you simply have to accept it. We will explore all possible objections to the attempted discontinuance, and seek an interim decision from a workers’ compensation judge to stop them from cutting off your wage loss benefits.
I cannot return to my former employment because of my work restrictions. Do I have to look for a new job?
Generally, yes. If you have permanent restrictions and your employer is unable to accommodate those restrictions, you will generally be required to look for a new job in order to receive ongoing wage loss benefits. If you do not conduct a diligent job search, the workers’ compensation insurance company will deny your claim for ongoing wage loss benefits. Contact us if you have been assigned permanent restrictions to learn about your rights and your obligations.
You may be entitled to a variety of other benefits if you suffer from a disability as the result of a work injury, including but not limited to, Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), Social Security Income (SSI), Unemployment Benefits, Short and/or Long-Term Disability Benefits, Retirement Benefits, and/or PERA or MSRS Duty or Regular Disability Benefits. If you were injured in a motor vehicle collision while on the job, you may also have a civil liability and/or No-Fault claim for benefits.
You should always report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. Generally, you are required to report your injury within 30 days, but you may have up to 180 days to report your injury in some circumstances. If you have not already reported your injury, contact us for more information.
If primary liability is admitted on your injury, there is no statute of limitations. That being said, it is better to bring your claim sooner rather than later. If your claim is denied, you may have three years or six years within which to bring a claim, depending on whether your employer filed a Notice of Primary Liability Determination. Contact us to discuss the specific time frames that may apply to your case.
No. Minnesota law prohibits an employer from firing an employee in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Unfortunately, that does not always stop an employer or a supervisor from harassing you, trying to force you to quit, or fabricating a reason to fire you. Call us today if you’re having problems at work after you’ve reported an injury.
Not necessarily. If your employer refuses to take you back after you’ve been released to work in a light duty capacity, or if your employer cannot accommodate your restrictions, you may be entitled to wage loss benefits and the assistance of a Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant (QRC).
Do not quit your job until you speak with us! If you quit your job, it may have a very serious impact on your entitlement to benefits.
Generally, the insurer must make payment within 14 days after receiving notice of time lost due to a work injury. If you are receiving temporary partial disability benefits, the insurer has 10 days from the day you send in your check stubs to make payment. If the insurance company has been ordered to make payment by the workers’ compensation division, a workers’ compensation judge, or the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals, payment must be made within 14 days.
It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to make late payments, which can obviously cause you significant financial distress. In some instances, there may be penalties available against the insurer if they are continuously late. We can help with this situation.
Your wage loss benefits are calculated under a specific formula set up by the Minnesota Legislature. To determine the amount you are entitled to, your Average Weekly Wage (AWW) is typically calculated by averaging your gross earnings over the 26 weeks preceding your injury. If you are off work completely due to your injury, you are entitled to temporary total disability benefits, which are payable at a rate of 2/3 of your average weekly wage. If you are working at a reduced rate, you are entitled to temporary partial disability benefits, which are payable at a rate of 2/3 of the difference between your average weekly wage and the amount you are earning in a reduced earning capacity. Workers’ compensation wage loss benefits are non-taxable.
It is very common for the insurance company to under-calculate the amount of your benefits. Call us today if you think the insurance company is underpaying your benefits.
If you are injured in an auto accident at work, you may have claims against both the workers’ compensation insurer, and against the insurer of the at-fault driver. Typically, workers’ compensation is primary, which means that workers’ compensation is responsible for paying first. Coordinating both claims and ensuring that you get all the benefits you are entitled to can be complicated. Make sure you retain a lawyer that can handle both your workers’ compensation claim and your car accident liability claim.
I was hurt at work, but my employer says they don’t have workers’ compensation insurance. What do I do?
Call us today! We can help you file the appropriate paperwork to report your injury. In Minnesota, virtually all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If you are hurt at work, and your employer doesn’t have insurance, your claims are covered by the Minnesota Special Compensation Fund. Unfortunately, this is common in the construction industry.
No. In Minnesota, “independent contractors” are generally not covered for workers’ compensation. That being said, just because your employer tells you that you are an “independent contractor” does not mean that you are considered an “independent contractor” within the meaning of the workers’ compensation law.
There are a variety of rules that apply to different types of occupations to determine whether a worker is an “independent contractor.”
Misclassification of employees as “independent contractors” is a problem that is rampant in the construction industry. Most construction workers are not “independent contractors” within the meaning of the Workers’ Compensation Act.
If you have a work-related injury, and you’re unsure whether you are an independent contractor or not, contact us for a specific analysis of your case.
If you cannot return to your former job due to your work injury, and if you are unlikely to be able to return to your former level of earning due to your injury, you may be eligible for retraining benefits. Retraining is a formal course of study or schooling designed to help you return to suitable gainful employment. While workers’ compensation insurers are required to give equal consideration to both rehabilitation benefits and retraining benefits, the reality is that an insurance company will rarely voluntarily pay for retraining. If you cannot return to your former job field due to your work injury, contact us for a free consultation to learn more about your rights.
Technically, there is no automatic settlement of a workers’ compensation case. You receive benefits so long as you are entitled to them. That being said, we routinely obtain settlements on behalf of our workers’ compensation clients.
In terms of settlement value, every workers’ compensation case is different. There is no set formula for calculating the settlement value of a case. Factors that affect the settlement value of a workers’ compensation case include the severity of an injury, whether an employer can accommodate an injured worker’s restrictions, the number of weeks of benefits that have already been paid, and most importantly, the injured worker’s average weekly wage at the time of the injury.
Until recently, the answer to that question was generally, no. In the absence of a physical injury, conditions that were strictly psychological in nature, even if they were work-related, were not covered under workers’ compensation law in Minnesota.
Effective for injuries that occurred on or after October 1, 2013, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that is caused by work is now covered under Minnesota workers’ compensation.
I have a pre-existing condition that was made worse by my work. Is this covered under workers’ compensation?
Generally, yes. If a work-related injury or work activities substantially aggravate or accelerate a pre-existing condition, that condition is covered under Minnesota workers’ compensation.
Insurance companies frequently try to deny claims involving evidence of a pre-existing condition. Just because the insurance company says your condition is pre-existing does not mean that you have to accept their position. This is a very common defense. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your claim.
I developed carpal tunnel syndrome, a low back problem, a shoulder problem, etc., over time due to my work activities. Is this covered?
Yes. These types of conditions are known as repetitive motion injuries, cumulative trauma injuries, or Gillette-type injuries, and they are covered by Minnesota workers’ compensation. Unfortunately, these types of conditions are also frequently disputed. Contact us to learn how to protect your rights.
Possibly. There are a variety of different types of proceedings in the Minnesota workers’ compensation system, including administrative conferences, 0.239 conferences, and hearings, which are workers’ compensation “trials.” While the majority of cases do not go to “trial” or hearing, some cases do. Hearings are held before a workers’ compensation judge without a jury. They usually take between a few hours and a day. We represent clients at workers’ compensation hearings on a regular basis.
Not all workers’ compensation cases settle, but most do. Every case is different in terms of time frame for settlement. Some cases settle within a couple months, and in some cases, it can take years to settle. As a rule of thumb, the more complex the case, the longer it will take to settle.