FAQS


Questions Asked about Minnesota Workers' Compensation Law:
 
The answers to these workers' compensation questions are not meant to provide you with a full understanding of Minnesota workers' compensation law or a complete answer to your particular question.

The more you know about your rights, the better you will be able to protect yourself and obtain the benefits to which you are entitled.

Sommerer and Schultz would be happy to answer any questions you have concerning Minnesota workers' compensation law or to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your rights at no cost or obligation to you.




1.    Should I notify my employer if I am injured on the job? 


2.    Can my employer terminate my employment if I claim workers' compensation benefits or report an injury at work? 


3.    If I am laid off or terminated am I entitled to workers' compensation benefits? 


4.    What benefits am I entitled to receive under workers' compensation law?


5.    What medical benefits am I entitled to receive? 


6.    Do I have the right to choose my own medical or chiropractic physician, or do I have to accept the physician chosen for me by the employer or the insurer? 


7.    How are my wage loss benefits calculated? 


8.    What are permanent partial disability benefits, how much am I entitled to receive, and when should I receive it? 


9.    Am I entitled to vocational assistance to help me return to work? 


10.   Can I recover for negligence? 


11.   When should I consult an attorney?

 


    1.     Should I notify my employer if I am injured on the job?

Absolutely, without fail, notify your employer immediately if you have been injured on the job due to a specific injury or immediately upon realizing you have been injured due to repetitive work activities. A workers' compensation injury may be the result of a specific incident (e.g., hurting your low back while lifting) or the result of repetitive work activities over a period of time (for example, repetitive lifting, repetitive bending, repetitive sitting, repetitive use of the hands and wrist, etc.).

Failure to provide notice within 14 days of your injury may result in a partial or total reduction in benefits.

Failure to notify your employer within 180 days of your injury (or within 180 days of the date you should have known your condition resulted from your work activities) will preclude you from receiving any workers' compensation benefits for your injury, with a few exceptions.  (See Minn. Stat.176.141.)

Remember however what actions or circumstances are deemed to satisfy the notice requirement may not be what you think – that is, you could have given notice, or notice may have otherwise been given, and you may not realize it.  Notice is a complicated issue, you should contact a workers’ compensation attorney for an analysis.
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    2.     Can my employer terminate my employment if I claim workers' compensation benefits or report an injury at work?

Generally, your employer can terminate you for any reason. If, however, the termination is the result of your injury, disability or physical restrictions you may be entitled to additional compensation or damages from your employer. Many people are fearful of telling their employer about an injury because they believe they may lose their job. We believe that the ramifications of not telling your employer can be far more devastating than the possibility of losing your job.  Fear of termination is not an excuse for failure to provide notice.

If an employer terminates you from employment as a result of your injury, you may have claims against your employer under both state and federal law. You may be entitled to damages over and above your workers' compensation benefits. (See Minn. Stat. 176.82)
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    3.     If I am laid off or terminated am I entitled to workers' compensation benefits?

An economic lay-off or termination does not necessarily preclude an injured worker from receiving workers' compensation benefits. As long as you continue to suffer from ongoing physical limitations which prevent or inhibit your ability to return to work, you remain eligible for workers' compensation benefits.
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    4.     What benefits am I entitled to receive under workers' compensation law?

Under workers’ compensation law you are entitled to four basic benefits:

a) Medical benefits
b) Wage loss benefits
c) Permanent partial disability benefits
d) Rehabilitation or retraining benefits

The extent of benefits to which you are entitled under each of these categories depends on many factors. The two most important factors are the date of your injury and the nature and extent of your injury. Minnesota workers' compensation law has changed over the years. An injured worker’s entitlement to benefits could differ depending upon the date of one's injury. Generally, the law in effect on the date of the injury controls the amount and duration of benefits you may receive. The nature and extent of your injuries also impact the length of time you are off work, the extent of your permanent partial disability, and your need for medical and vocational assistance. All of these factors will influence the amount of your entitlement to workers' compensation benefits. (See Minn. Stat. 176.101, 176.102, 176.104, 176.135)
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    5.     What medical benefits am I entitled to receive?

Under workers' compensation law you are entitled to receive reasonable and necessary medical benefits to cure or relieve the effects of your injury, including mileage reimbursement to you for your travels to and from medical treatment. Medical benefits include treatment by chiropractors, physicians, physical therapists, psychiatrists, etc. The extent and nature of your treatment depends on the nature and extent of your injury. As long as your work-related injury is a significant contributing factor toward the need for treatment, the workers' compensation insurer will be responsible for payment for reasonable and necessary medical treatment for your lifetime, whether you change employers or your employer changes insurance companies. (See Minn. Stat. 176.135)
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    6.     Do I have the right to choose my own medical or chiropractic physician, or do I have to accept the physician chosen for me by the employer or the insurer?

Generally, you have the right to choose your treating doctors.  You should make this choice immediately.  If you do not, or if you wish to otherwise change doctors, rules are in place to allow you to do so.  In certain limited circumstances, an employer may require you to obtain treatment in whole or in part under an employer selected certified managed care plan.

For specific questions as to the type, nature, and duration of treatment permitted under the law you should contact a workers' compensation attorney.
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    7. How are my wage loss benefits calculated?

The extent of and test for wage loss benefits is governed by the law in effect on your date of injury.  For most dates of injury injured workers are potentially entitled to temporary total, temporary partial, or permanent total disability benefits.  Because of the many rules governing your entitlement to wage loss, you should contact a workers’ compensation attorney.

Generally, when you are totally disabled as a result of a work-related injury, you are entitled to two-thirds of your gross average weekly wage on the date of your injury, subject to statewide maximum and minimum amounts. This benefit is called temporary total disability and will be paid when you are unable to work or are able to work, but with restrictions. (See Minn. Stat. 176.001, subd. 3 and 18)

If as a result of your injury you return to work at a wage loss, you will be entitled to two-thirds of the difference between the wages you were earning on the date of your injury and the wage you are able to earn in your disabled state. This benefit is called temporary partial disability.

If you are severely injured and permanently unable to return to any type of gainful employment, you may be entitled to permanent total disability benefits. These wage loss benefits are typically paid up to retirement age and sometimes beyond.

Wage loss benefits including temporary total, temporary partial, and permanent total disability are subject to cost of living adjustments.

The complete wage loss compensation system is too complicated to explain in this summary. However, you should contact an attorney to be sure that you protect your entitlement to wage loss benefits, particularly if you were injured on or after January 1, 1984.

WARNING: If at any time you receive a Statement of Maximum Medical Improvement in the mail from the insurer, the employer or any other person, it would be in your interests to contact an attorney to determine the effect of this statement. This document is very important for persons who were injured on or after January 1, 1984. If you do not take appropriate action, you may lose your entitlement to ongoing wage loss benefits 90 days after the service. (See Minn. Stat. 176.101, subd. 3e and 3f.)
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    8.     What are permanent partial disability benefits, how much am I entitled to receive, and when should I receive it?

Permanent partial disability benefits are separate from the wage loss benefits and are paid for the permanent functional loss of the affected body members.

When and if you are entitled to permanent partial disability depends on many factors. You must have a permanent injury to receive these benefits. The date of your injury will govern the extent and amount of permanent partial disability entitlement, when you will receive your compensation, and whether it is payable in a lump sum or on a weekly basis. (See Minn. Stat. 176.101, subd. 3a and 3b.)

If you continue to have a disability one year after your injury occurred, or if you are unable to return to your pre-injury employment because of your injury, you may be entitled to some form of permanent partial disability benefits. If you have not received your permanent partial disability under these circumstances, or if you have received permanent partial disability and you are unsure whether it is the correct amount, you should contact a workers' compensation attorney immediately.
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    9.     Am I entitled to vocational assistance to help me return to work?

Yes. Minnesota worker's compensation law provides that injured workers who are unable to return to their pre-injury job and would benefit from vocational assistance will generally be eligible for vocational assistance to possibly include retraining to return to their pre-injury earnings. Once eligible, you have the right to timely choose your own rehabilitation consultant. You do not have to accept the rehabilitation consultant assigned to you by the employer or insurer, even if you have been accepting assistance from this rehabilitation consultant.

However, the selection of your own Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant generally will be made within the first 60 days. The employer and insurer may attempt to assign a vocational counselor to you. The selection of an appropriate rehabilitation consultant is important to protect your interests. This is not to say that the rehabilitation consultant assigned by the employer or insurer will be unacceptable. However, like choosing a doctor or lawyer, it is always important to make a careful selection of a rehabilitation consultant. You may wish to contact an attorney prior to selecting a rehabilitation consultant. (See Minn. Stat. 176.102)
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    10.     Can I recover for negligence?

As a general proposition you cannot sue your employer for negligence associated with your work-related injury. The workers' compensation system will provide an exclusive remedy for such claims against your employer. If, however, the injury was the result of the negligence of some third party other than your employer, you may be entitled to pursue a separate cause of action for damages against the negligent individual or entity. If you believe your accident or injury was caused by someone other than your employer, you should consult an attorney. (See Minn. Stat. 176.031)
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    11.     When should I consult an attorney?

The laws governing workers' compensation are extensive and complex. If you do not understand what your rights are or if you have a question as to what or how much benefits you are entitled to, you should consult an attorney practicing in the area of workers' compensation. Additionally, if you have an injury of permanent or prolonged nature, or one which keeps you off work for more than 30 days or prevents you from returning to your pre-injury job, you may be entitled to additional benefits, and an attorney should be consulted as soon as possible.
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