Workers’ Compensation and the Basics of a Claim

A worker holding a girder catches his breath while looking at the camera.

When you sustain a work-related injury or develop a condition resulting from your work activities, your employer or their insurer are required to provide certain benefits under Minnesota’s workers’ compensation law. These benefits generally involve medical care, compensation for lost wages, compensation for loss of function, and rehabilitation services provided by a qualified rehabilitation consultant (QRC).

Compensable injuries

In Minnesota, when an employee is injured on the job, whether their own fault or not, they are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Some types of workers’ compensation injuries or conditions include:

  • Specific injury – an injury that occurs at a specific time, for example, a back injury from a squad car accident or a shoulder injury from appending a suspect
  • Gillette injury – “wear and tear” injuries that develop and worsen over time – for instance, back pain that worsens over time from the physicality of calls for service or strain from the duty belt and gear
  • PTSD – a diagnosis of PTSD is presumed work-related for first responders
  • Occupational disease – cancer and heart disease if caused by work activities or exposures, and a COVID-19 diagnosis is presumed work-related for first responders
  • Death – a work-related injury or condition that leads to an employee’s death

What should I do if I sustain an injury at work?

With any injury sustained on the job, it should be reported to your supervisor and a First Report of Injury form should be filed.  If you are experiencing symptoms from the injury, you should see a medical provider right away. If you delay reporting the injury or seeking treatment, your employer or their insurer may deny your workers’ compensation benefits.

Similarly, if you are diagnosed with an occupational disease such as PTSD, cancer, or heart disease, it’s important to report the diagnosis to your supervisor to initiate a workers’ compensation claim.

What happens if workers’ compensation denies my claim?

Just because a denial is issued, it does not mean that you are out of luck and will never receive benefits for your injury. If your claim is denied, it’s important to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to assess your claim for benefits. If you wait too long to pursue benefits on a denied claim, you may be barred from benefits by the statute of limitations.

What happens if workers’ compensation accepts liability for my claim?

Each case is unique and typically involves different types of benefits for which you may be eligible, including:

  • Medical care – an injured employee is entitled to all reasonable and necessary medical care or treatment to cure or relieve the effects of the injury or condition
  • Wage loss benefits – you’re entitled to wage loss benefits when you’re either fully off of work or working at a reduced rate of pay because of your injury or condition
  • Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) – a PPD % rating provides compensation for loss of function – but don’t assume that nothing is owed to you just because your employer’s doctor rates you at 0%
  • Rehabilitation – the services of a qualified rehabilitation consultant (QRC) and retraining which could involve taking classes to obtain a new degree or certification

What is a QRC and do I need one?

QRC stands for qualified rehabilitation consultant and the right QRC can be a valuable resource for an injured employee and is 100% paid for by the employer or insurer. A QRC assists an injured worker through attending medical appointments and coordinating communications with the claims adjuster. They also may assist with a job search or by developing a retraining plan to help the employee return to suitable work in a new profession.  However, it’s important to find the right QRC, and employers will rarely inform injured workers that they can select their own QRC.

What else should I consider if I’m injured at work?

Peace officers may be entitled to PERA or MSRS disability benefits in addition to benefits available under the Workers’ Compensation Act.

All workplace injury or disability claims involving workers’ compensation or PERA/MSRS have varying statutes of limitations or deadlines to file a claim. If you wait too long to pursue a claim after your injury, your otherwise compensable claim may be time-barred.

If you believe that you have sustained a work-related injury or condition, contact Meuser, Yackley & Rowland, P.A. for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation and claim evaluation. Our knowledgeable and experienced attorneys take the time with each client to determine all claims that may be available under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act, PERA/MSRS disability, personal injury, and other areas of law.

Call us today at 1-877-746-5680 to discuss your injury or condition with an experienced attorney.