What is Workers’ Compensation?
If you are injured while at work in Minnesota, workers’ compensation will provide compensation for your injuries regardless of who is at fault for your injuries. However, you may only be compensated for injuries that are directly related to your work. The idea behind workers’ compensation is that it would guarantee a set compensation for an injured worker, while also allowing employers to avoid paying litigation expenses and, possibly, large awards in personal injury lawsuits. Workers’ compensation precludes a worker’s right to sue his employer for a work-related injury in most cases.
I’ve Been Injured at Work in Minnesota, What Should I do?
- If your injury causes an emergency situation, seek medical attention immediately. If your injury does not create an emergency medical care, inform your employer about your injury as soon as possible (or once your injury is no longer an emergency). This step is very important because if you wait too long to report your injury, you may lose your right to compensation.
- Your employer will then fill out a First Report of Injury (FROI) form and might give you a list of approved doctors to visit. You need to visit a doctor that is on the list that your employer gives you, unless she is not a part of a healthcare organization in which case you may chose your own doctor. When you visit your doctor, tell her that you sustained your injuries while at work, this way she will be able to know who to bill for your initial treatment. It is possible that your employer with have another doctor conduct an independent medical examination (IME). This will simply confirm that you are injured and that your injuries are a result of your work. If your claim is approved, you should expect to receive workers’ compensation benefits within two weeks.
What Types of Benefits Does Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Provide?
Workers’ compensation will basically pay for any expenses related to your work-related injury. This includes:
- Medical benefits
- Vocational Rehabilitation
- Travel expenses
- Dependant benefits in the case of death
However, workers’ compensation is primarily used to pay income benefits, which are:
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits in Minnesota
If your injury stops you from returning to work, but is still in the process of healing, you may qualify for Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits. TTD benefits are equal to two-thirds of the average weekly wage that you earned before you were injured. These benefits can be limited to Minnesota’s state average weekly wage maximums and minimums. TTD benefits are paid until 90 days after your injury has reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). Although, the maximum amount of time that you may receive TTD benefits is 130 weeks (generally).
- Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) Benefits in Minnesota
If your injury impedes your ability to do work, but is still in the process of healing, you may qualify for Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefits. TPD benefits are equal to two-thirds of the deference of your wages before and after your injury. To qualify for TPD payments, you must return to work at a reduced pay. These benefits can exist until you return to work at your full wage, payments have been made for 225 weeks (or after 450 weeks of your injury), or have been receiving payments for 90 days after your injury has reached MMI.
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD) Benefits in Minnesota
If your injury stops you from returning to work indefinitely, you may qualify for Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits. PTD benefits are equal to two-thirds of your average weekly wage, which is the same payment as TTD benefits. However, PTD benefits have a minimum payment of 65 percent of the state average weekly wage, and will be paid until you become 67 years old.
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Benefits in Minnesota
If you suffer a permanent impairment because of your injury, you may qualify for Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits. Once your injury has reached MMI, your doctor will determine your injury impairment rating. To calculate the amount of compensation that you will receive for PPD benefits, multiply your impairment rating by the allocated amount provided in Chapter 176.101 Section 2a of the Minnesota State Code. These payments may be made in instalments, or paid in a one-time lump sum payment that is subject to a discount of up to five percent.
What Should I do if My Minnesota Workers’ Comp Claim is Denied?
Under Minnesota State Law, all employers are required to provide their employees with workers’ compensation coverage. So, there is usually no question as to whether or not a worker is entitled to compensation. In the rare event that an employee’s workers’ compensation claim is rejected, it is likely because the claim was misfiled or because evidence relating the worker’s injury to his work was not clearly given. In most cases, the problem can be fixed with a simple phone call to your employer’s insurance company.
However, if your employer’s insurance carrier still challenges your claim after mediation from Minnesota’s Department of Labor and Industry, you should retain an experienced Minnesota workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. Workers’ compensation attorneys are paid on contingency, meaning that they won’t charge you upfront. It is your right to retain a workers compensation attorney at any point during the claims process, and can help smooth over any problems that you may run across.
Your case may receive a hearing for your right to compensation which can be appealed if necessary. Keep in mind, that presenting your case at a formal hearing (or even an informal hearing) could determine whether or not you are compensated for your injury, and the insurer that is challenging your claim will have an attorney representing them. For that reason, it is always wise to have an attorney there representing you.