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The criminal defense lawyers and workers comp lawyers of Arechigo & Stokka provide direct, personal attention to your case. Our attorneys are committed to achieving your case goals, no matter the type of injury or criminal charge.

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From The Blog

Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Guide

| Read Time: 6 minutes

Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Assisting Clients in Minnesota If you are injured on the job in Minnesota and cannot return to work due to the severity of your injury, you may be eligible to file a claim for Minnesota workers’ compensation. Under Minnesota law, most workers who sustain serious injuries or illnesses in the course of their employment are eligible to seek Minnesota work comp benefits. However, there are some exceptions to the rule, and there are very specific guidelines that govern when and how an injured worker must file a claim. Filing a workers’ comp MN claim can be extremely complicated, and there are various reasons that your claim can be denied. With the help of a workers’ compensation MN attorney, you can ensure that you take all necessary steps in the initial process of filing your claim. If you have already filed a claim and are facing a denial of benefits, one of the dedicated attorneys at our firm can assist with your appeal. Do not hesitate to get in touch with the experienced Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyers at Arechigo & Stokka to learn more about how we can assist with your case. What is Workers’ Compensation in Minnesota? Workers’ compensation insurance is a type of insurance that most employers in Minnesota are required to carry, and it can provide coverage to employees who sustain illnesses or injuries on the job. When an employee gets hurt at work or as a result of his or her employment, that employee can file a workers’ compensation claim in order to seek benefits. Typically, workers’ compensation coverage can compensate an injured employee for a portion of his or her lost wages, as well as medical coverage for the injuries, suffered on the job. Injuries must be work-related injuries, or arise out of the course of employment, in order to be eligible for coverage. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (MDLI) defines a work-related injury as “any condition that is caused, aggravated, or accelerated by employment activities.” Traumatic injuries, gradual injuries, and occupational diseases all may be covered by workers’ comp. For example, an injury that happens on a job site typically will be covered. If a worker drives a vehicle as part of his or her job duties, then injuries sustained in a traffic crash also may arise out of the worker’s job and may be covered by workers’ comp. However, injuries sustained in a crash on the way to work will not be eligible for workers’ comp MN coverage. Mandatory Coverage: Who is Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Minnesota Generally speaking, most employers in Minnesota are required to have workers’ compensation insurance. To be clear, Minnesota has what is known as mandatory coverage when it comes to workers’ comp. As such, most employers who hire other people to perform services are required to buy workers’ compensation coverage or self-insurance. Even employers who only hire minors or non-citizens are required to have workers’ compensation coverage under the mandatory coverage provisions. In some cases, even volunteers are covered by workers’ comp. However, there are some exceptions. While these exceptions are limited mostly to certain small business situations, the following are some examples of employers who may be exempt from purchasing workers’ compensation insurance under Minnesota law: Sole proprietors: If a person is a sole proprietor of a business, that small business owner is not required to have workers’ compensation coverage for herself or for close family members working in the business (such as children, a spouse, or parents). However, it is important to be clear that a sole proprietor is required to have workers’ compensation coverage for other employees. Partnerships: Businesses that are structured as partnerships, similar to sole proprietorships, tend to be exempt from coverage for the partners and for close relatives of the partners who are employees of the business. Executive officers in closely held corporations: In some closely held corporations, an executive officer is exempt from workers’ compensation coverage. However, numerous requirements must be met in order for the executive officer to be exempt. Managers in LLCs: Managers of limited liability companies (LLCs) are, in some situations, exempt from mandatory coverage for workers’ compensation. Other parties may be exempt, and it is important to confirm with an experienced workers’ comp MN lawyer whether coverage is mandatory. Just because a person is exempt does not mean that the person cannot elect to provide workers’ compensation coverage. If an employer is exempt but elects to provide coverage, then any employees who are covered can be eligible to file a claim. Types of Disability Benefits Provided By Workers’ Compensation Workers’ compensation benefits tend to provide compensation for four different types of disability benefits: Temporary total disability: Your injury prevents you from returning to work in any capacity, but you are expected to recover (at least in part) from your injury. Temporary total disability benefits, or TTD benefits, pay two-thirds of an employee’s average weekly wage with a maximum of the 2019 statewide average weekly wage (SAWW) of $1,112.00. Typically, TTD benefits are paid for a maximum of 130 weeks. In some cases where an employee is in a vocational rehabilitation program, TTD benefits can be extended. Temporary partial disability: Your injury prevents you from returning to work in your full capacity, yet you are able to return to work in a part-time or modified capacity. You are also expected to recover from your injuries. Compensation is two-thirds of the difference between your earnings if you were at full capacity and your modified earnings. TPD benefits typically are available for a maximum of 225 weeks. Permanent partial disability: Permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits are designed for injured workers who suffer a permanent disability, but your disability does not prevent you from working entirely. For example, most permanent partial disability benefits involve the loss of function of part of the body. The amount of PPD benefits depends upon the type of permanent disability and the severity of it. For example, the loss of...

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Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Laws

| Read Time: 2 minutes

When you’re going about your day at work and performing job-related tasks, the last thing you expect is to suffer injuries in a workplace accident. However, statistics from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal that these incidents are more common than you think. According to a report on State Occupational Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities for 2017, there were 72,500 recordable cases in Minnesota regarding medical conditions resulting from work-related activities. The implications extend far beyond the physical pain and into financial consequences, as employees experienced 36,600 days away from work. Fortunately, Minnesota workers’ compensation laws protect employees who are unable to work because of illness or injury. Monetary benefits are available, though they’re not automatic. You must successfully navigate the claims process, which can be complicated. To increase your chances of quick approval and prompt payment, it’s wise to retain a Minnesota workers’ compensation attorney for assistance. A summary of the relevant laws may also be helpful. Legal Obligations for Minnesota Employers Under MN workers’ compensation laws, all employers must procure insurance policies to cover the losses of eligible employees who suffer from work-related ailments. As such, your first step in seeking monetary benefits is filing a claim with the worker’s comp insurance company. You don’t have to prove that your employer was at fault, but you must meet strict eligibility rules to qualify. Eligibility Under MN Workers’ Comp Laws The primary consideration for purposes of qualifying for benefits is your status. Most workers will be eligible, even those that are part-time. The exception is for individuals who work as independent contractors, as separate from the employer’s business. The second key to qualifying for workers’ comp benefits is the incident or work-related factors that led to your medical condition. Both injuries and occupational illnesses are covered by state laws. Aside from eligibility, you should note that there are deadlines and time restrictions you must obey to ensure you get the workers’ comp benefits you deserve. You need to inform your employer within 14 days after a workplace accident, or you could lose your rights. Benefits for Qualifying Employees If you qualify, there are multiple monetary benefits you may be entitled to receive: The costs of medical care, including all treatment, equipment, supplies, and transportation expenses to and from appointments; Lost wages, which are a percentage of your income that you lose because of being unable to work; and, Vocational rehabilitation, to provide training, education, and other support if you need to move into another occupation because of your injuries. In addition, death benefits are available for family members of workers who lose a loved one because of a workplace accident. Schedule a Free Consultation with a Skilled Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Lawyer To learn more about your rights under Minnesota workers’ compensation laws, please contact Arechigo & Stokka, P.A. to speak to a member of our team. You can call 651-222-6603 or visit our website to set up a complimentary case evaluation at our St. Paul, MN office. We’ll be in a better position to advise you once we review your unique circumstances.

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Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines

| Read Time: 6 minutes

Though judges may seem to have considerable leeway in sentencing individuals who have been convicted of crimes, real-life circumstances are very different from what you see in films. Minnesota, several other US states, and the federal government have implemented sentencing guidelines to assist judges in handing down punishment. These sets of rules are designed to ensure fairness and consistency, so that bias doesn’t adversely affect basic principles of justice. Like their counterparts in other jurisdictions, the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines are extremely complex and take various factors into account in determining penalties for a conviction. For this reason, it’s important to retain experienced legal counsel as early on in the criminal process as possible. Your Minnesota criminal defense attorney can defend your interests in the underlying crime and will strive to obtain a favorable outcome when it comes to sentencing. In addition, you may find it useful to review some basic information about how sentencing works under Minnesota criminal laws. Overview of Minnesota Sentencing Commission and Guidelines Back in 1978, Minnesota lawmakers enacted the first legislation in the US regarding a set of rules to assist judges in sentencing. The statute created the Minnesota Sentencing Commission, a government body that implemented another first in the country: The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines went into effect in 1980. Since that time, the number of convicted felons who were sentenced according to the rules grew from 5,500 to 18,288 felony offenders in 2017 – according to the Commission’s 2019 Report to the Legislature. The Commission is charged with establishing the Guidelines and updating them on an annual basis, with the primary goal being public safety. A secondary objective of the sentencing system is to promote uniformity and ensure that decisions on punishment are not motivated by race, gender, or other constitutionally protected classifications. By applying the Guidelines, sentencing is more likely to be neutral, logical, and consistent. As will be described in further detail below, the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines encompass a grid system that assesses the severity of the crime and the individual’s criminal history. The product of this analysis is a presumptive sentence, though a judge can exercise some discretion within a limited range of potential punishments. Under designated – mostly rare – circumstances, a court can depart from the presumptive sentence. Over the decades since the Guidelines went into effect, they have been largely successful in meeting the stated objectives of the Commission. The 2019 Report indicates that Minnesota has consistently ranked in the top three US states with the lowest imprisonment rates; the state has earned this accolade in all but one of the 37 years spanning from 1980 – 2016. In addition, Minnesota’s imprisonment rate in 2016 was around 190 for every 100,000 residents in the state. This number is less than half the rate of all other states, which was 387 per 100,000 residents. Because the system created by the Guidelines results in some of the lowest rates of incarceration, your situation may not be as grim as you think. Of course, the outcome will depend on the specifics of your case. A skilled criminal defense attorney can work to develop a strategy that takes the best possible advantage of the Guidelines. Presumptive Versus Maximum Sentences The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines are developed around the concept of “presumptive” sentences. The term comes from the fact that the punishment is presumed to be appropriate for all typical cases, after accounting for the individual’s criminal history and the severity of the offense for which he or she was convicted. Within the presumptive sentence, there are two important factors: The presumptive duration, which is a defined sentence length as measured in months; and, The presumptive range of punishment, starting from a point 15 percent lower and 20 percent higher than the presumptive duration. When applying the factors of the two-part test explained below, the judge will come to a designated spot on the Sentencing Guidelines Grid – which contains the presumptive duration and presumptive range for individuals convicted of Minnesota felonies. In a typical case, one that doesn’t encompass unusual circumstances, the judge will use the presumptive duration. However, where there are factors that reflect unfavorably on the convicted individual, the court can sentence up to the presumptive range limit. Likewise, when the person’s actions justify a reduced sentence, a judge may issue a sentence on the low end of the presumptive range. In addition, the court is required to abide by rules related to the statutory maximum sentence. For Minnesota felonies, the statute will usually use the phrase “imprisonment for not more than X years.” This language defines the maximum sentence a judge can issue. Two-Part Determination Under Minnesota Criminal Laws The core of the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines is the Grid, a table with a horizontal and vertical axis. The axes incorporate two separate factors that a court applies when determining a sentence. Severity Level: Here, the focus is the crime for which you were convicted in the current case. On the vertical axis, the severity level is an assigned ranking starting on the high end at Severity Level 11 – mostly murder cases. The lowest is Severity Level 1, which incorporates certain assault felonies. Criminal History Score: Your past criminal record is the key consideration with this part of the test, making up the horizontal axis of the Grid. For purposes of your Criminal History Score, you accumulate points for: Prior felonies; Your custody status at the time of the offense, i.e., whether you were on probation or otherwise within the Minnesota criminal justice system; Prior to certain misdemeanors; and, Previous juvenile matters. Specific Rules for Certain Offenders The Standard Sentencing Grid applies to all felony cases except for individuals who are convicted on charges for sex or drug crimes. Separate sentencing grids are used for drug offenses and for sex crimes; however, you’ll still accumulate points on your Criminal History Score in much the same way. The details for these separate grids include: The Sex Offender Grid is divided into eight...

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