Workers’ Compensation Claims
Employers and insurance companies will often deny and minimize the benefits paid out to employees who were injured on the job. They do this by claiming that the injuries are not directly from their employment and/or that the injuries are not as severe as they are made out to be. Because of this, it is important to retain legal counsel in order for the employer and insurance companies to be held liable to the fullest extent that the law allows.
As you may already be aware, when a workers’ compensation claim is made, there is a lot of paperwork containing several unfamiliar terms and phrases. A workers’ compensation claim can be made much more simple with the help of an attorney. This allows the injured worker to focus on getting better, while the attorney will assure that you are being treated fairly and receiving the maximum amount of benefits.
Minnesota workers’ compensation law states all employers are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance or become self-insured. The workers’ compensation system provides benefits if you become injured or ill from your job. Workers’ compensation covers injuries or illnesses caused or made worse by work or the workplace. Workers’ compensation benefits are paid regardless of any fault of either the employer or employee.
Workers’ compensation pays for medical care related to the injury, as long as it is reasonable and necessary; wage-loss benefits for part of your income loss; benefits for permanent damage to a body function; benefits to your dependents if you die of a work injury; vocational rehabilitation services if you cannot return to your job or to the employer you had before your injury; and travel mileage with regard to medical treatment and/or for certain vocational rehabilitation services.
The Compensation Process
#1 Injured On The Job
Seek medical treatment immediately. If your employer tells you to choose a certain doctor, you have the right to refuse. You want a doctor who is neutral, not one paid for by the insurance company. Don’t wait. Report your injury to your supervisor as soon as possible. You may lose the right to workers’ compensation benefits if you do not report the injury within the time frames set by law. Your employer must then complete the First Report of Injury form. The employer has 10 days from its knowledge of a lost-time claim to report it to the employer’s insurance company. If your disability lasts for more than three days, the insurer must file the First Report of Injury form with the Department of Labor and Industry. Your employer or its insurer must provide you with a copy of the First Report of Injury. The employer must give you the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation System Employee Information Sheet at the time you are given a copy of the First Report of Injury. After you have reported the injury, the insurer will investigate your claim to verify it was work-related. If the insurer accepts your claim for benefits, the insurer must send you a copy of the Notice of Insurer’s Primary Liability Determination form stating your claim is accepted. The insurer must start paying wage-loss benefits within 14 days from the day your employer was informed about your work injury and lost wages. The insurer must pay benefits at the same intervals you were paid wages. For injuries on or after October 1, 2008, after you have been paid 52 weeks of temporary total disability benefits, the insurer must notify you in writing of the 130-week limitation on payment of this benefit. Before 80 weeks of wage-loss benefits have been paid, the insurer must notify you of the time limit for you to request retraining. Keep in mind that even if your claim is approved initially, insurance companies more often than not will eventually discontinue benefits and deny your claim. If the insurance company denies your claim partly or entirely, discontinues benefits or is not providing benefits in accordance with the law, we move on to the next step.
#2 Filing Of The Petition
Filing a petition can vary from claim to claim. Generally, a petition is put together with your medical records along with any reports from your treating physicians. Once complete, the petition will be filed with the Department of Labor and Industry.
Following the filing of the petition, your deposition will be scheduled by the defense. This is basically a sit-down question-and-answer session. You will be asked questions about how the injury happened, your injuries and medical treatment. If you retain an attorney, he or she will prepare you and be present for the deposition.
#4 Medical Examination
Your insurance company has the right to have you examined by one of its own doctors. More often than not, these doctors will conclude that you are fine or that your injuries are not as severe as your doctors state they are.
This allows the attorneys to get together to discuss the settlement of the case. If the case is not settled, a hearing will be scheduled in front of a judge.
The hearing will be before a judge. You will be required to present testimony and evidence to prove your case. At the end of the hearing, the judge will issue a decision with regard to the benefits you are owed.
Whether you were just injured on the job or your claim has been denied, we are here to help navigate the workers’ compensation process. Feel free to contact our office if you have questions and/or are seeking representation.