If you are injured while working, you may be able to bring a workers' compensation claim. Workers' compensation replaces your wages and pays for medical expenses related to the workplace accident.
The following are some common questions that clients ask Minnesota workers' compensation attorneys. This is general information that should not be construed as legal advice.
What should I do when I am injured at work?
First, seek medical attention. Then, report your injury to your employer. Give your employer as much information as possible about your injuries, and where and how you were hurt.
How do I start a workers' compensation claim?
The main step you must take to start a workers' comp claim is to report your injury in detail to your employer. Your employer must fill out a First Report of Injury (FROI) form and submit this form to the insurer. If your employer fails to do so, it can face significant penalties.
When is an injury covered by workers' compensation?
Any injury that was "caused, aggravated or accelerated by employment activities" is covered by workers' compensation. Traumatic injuries, occupational diseases and gradual injuries all fall under workers' comp.
What can I recover from a successful workers' compensation claim?
You may be entitled to compensation for:
- Wage loss: You may receive temporary total disability (TTD) benefits if you are unable to return to work, or temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits if you earn less after the injury than you earned at the time of the injury.
- Loss of a limb: If you lose permanent use of a body part, you can receive permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits.
- Medical costs: You are entitled to receive reasonable and necessary treatment to cure or relieve the symptoms of your work injury. This includes general medical treatment (doctor, hospital, etc.) as well as necessary psychological and chiropractic care.
- Vocational rehabilitation: If your injury makes it difficult to return to work and your employer cannot offer you "suitable gainful employment" based on your work restrictions, you can request a rehabilitation consultation and, if eligible, receive vocational rehabilitation services.
- Retraining: You may request retraining benefits anytime before you receive 208 weeks of wage-loss benefits. These benefits cover the education you need to return to "suitable gainful employment."
Who chooses the physician?
In most cases, an employee can choose his or her own doctor; however, there are certain times when an employer can require an employee to see a health care provider chosen by the employer. This includes when the employer has a managed care plan certified under Minnesota law or the employer is part of a collective bargaining agreement that includes a list of health care providers.
The employer may also require the employee to obtain prescription and nonprescription medication from a certain pharmacy if it is near the employee's home (within 15 miles).
Can I also sue my employer for my injuries?
In most cases, the answer is no. Workers' compensation protects employers from liability for workplace injuries. Similarly, you will probably not be able to sue your coworkers if they caused your on-the-job injury. You may, however, bring a third-party liability lawsuit against a third party who is at fault for your accident. For example, if you were injured by a negligent driver while traveling on-the-job, you can still sue the negligent driver for your injuries in addition to bringing a workers' compensation claim.
What if my workers' compensation claim is denied?
If your employer's workers' compensation insurer has denied your work comp benefits, you should discuss the denial with the insurance claims adjuster. If the claims adjuster sticks to his or her decision, you can discuss the issue through alternative dispute resolution/mediation with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.
Finally, you may appeal the denial. To file an appeal, you must file an Employee's Claim Petition form.
What if my medical benefits are denied?
If your employer's workers' compensation insurer has denied liability for your medical costs, you and your workers' compensation lawyer can request a hearing with an administrative law judge by filing the Employee's Claim Petition form. If the insurer has already admitted liability, you can file a Medical Request form with the Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) to address an insurer's late payment or failure to pay.
When should I hire a workers' compensation lawyer?
Workers' compensation is a complex area of law involving frequent legal decisions that can affect someone's rights to collect benefits after an on-the-job injury. Retaining a lawyer early on in the process can help you navigate the process and increase your chances of receiving benefits. However, if you have already gone through the initial process and are facing a workers' compensation denial, an attorney can also step in to provide assistance during mediation or at your workers' comp hearing.