Types of Injuries for Work Comp

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MINNESOTA WORK COMP LAWYER  An injured worker can be entitled to Minnesota work comp benefits if an injury is work-related as the result of work duties.  The employee may be injured on the employer’s property, while at another worksite, when traveling on the job, or doing anything that is work-related while “on the clock.”  With the help of an experienced Minnesota workers’ comp attorney, you will receive the help that you need to fill out and file a complete and accurate claim. UNDERSTANDING THE TYPES OF WORKPLACE INJURIES An injury incurred on the job is not considered a valid injury for work comp purposes if it was an injury that occurred due to committing a crime, did not occur while on the clock, was self-inflicted, was due to a pre-existing condition unless worsened by current work, or resulted from the use of alcohol or drugs.  An injury may also not be covered by workers’ comp if it is determined that the injury occurred due to violating company policy. Injuries that are covered under Minnesota work comp typically include physical injuries, including broken bones, head injuries, spinal injuries, amputated limbs, paralysis, eye injuries, burn injuries, repetitive motion injuries (carpal tunnel),  and many others. Illnesses may also be covered if the illness was caused by a hazardous job condition.  For instance, exposure to a toxic substance and exposure to substances that can cause cancer or respiratory illnesses can usually trigger Minnesota work comp benefits. Mental illnesses or traumatic emotional experiences at work are tricky.  These areas have gained some recent momentum under Minnesota work comp.  A person who experiences an event at work that causes emotional trauma resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD could possibly qualify for Minnesota work comp benefits if it is deemed impossible for a person to return to work or a person can only work in a limited capacity because of the traumatic experience. HELPING YOU GET THE COMPENSATION YOU DESERVE When you have experienced any of the aforementioned types of injuries, it is important to notify your employer, your doctor, and your Minnesota workers’ comp attorney.  That way the process toward filing your workers’ comp claim can begin.  Minnesota work comp benefits are designed to help you get through your injury, recover, and return to work. CONTACT A ST. PAUL WORK COMP LAWYER As noted, several types of injuries are excluded from Minnesota work comp benefits. It is not uncommon for an employer or the insurance company to claim a legitimate work comp injury falls under one of the excluded categories and thereby attempt to deny work comp benefits. If you have been injured on the job, our experienced St. Paul workers’ comp attorneys can help you obtain your benefits as soon as possible, as well as remove a great deal of stress from the process. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.  There is no upfront fee if you decide to hire our St. Paul work comp lawyers to help recover your Minnesota work comp benefits.

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Keep Calm and Lawyer Up

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Perhaps the most important thing someone can remember to do when they find him or herself in the middle of a police encounter is to keep calm.   Getting into an argument with the police, no matter how right you may be, is not going to do any good.  The police will most likely describe you as being “uncooperative” or “combative.” Instead, keep calm and lawyer up.  Tell the officers that you would like to have your attorney present for any questioning.  After you have asserted your right to have an attorney present, the police cannot ask you anymore questions and the interrogation must end. Keep calm and lawyer up.

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Injured At Work In Minnesota– What Should I Do?

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If you are injured at work in Minnesota, the first thing that you must do is report the injury to your employer.   Report the injury to your supervisor.  If you do not have a direct supervisor, report the injury to someone in a management capacity.  Report the injury regardless of the severity.  This is important because sometimes what you believe is a minor injury can develop into a serious injury. Failure to report the injury when it occurs can complicate matters.  If you are injured at work, go home, and then the next morning realize that the injury is much more severe than you realized, the employer may not believe you were injured at work.  Even very severe injuries may not seem severe when they occur.  Report any injury. If needed, go to the emergency room.  After reporting the injury at work, any treatment necessary to treat that injury will be compensated.  Do not worry about the expense at this time.  Tell your doctor you were injured at work.  Your employer may attempt to direct you to a doctor.  You do not have to go to the doctor they tell you to go to.  You may choose your doctor.  If needed you should get a restriction from your doctor.  The restriction can be different depending on the nature of the injury.  It can be a time-per-day restriction, a weight restriction, or anything your doctor deems appropriate. After you receive the restriction, if any, give it to your employer.  Ask your employer to complete a First Report of Injury.  If your employer refuses, fill out the document yourself.   Contact the law firm of Arechigo & Stokka, LLP, for a free consultation at 651-222-6603.

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Injured at Work Going Up or Down Stairs

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STAIR INJURY AT WORK If you were injured at work going up or down stairs, you deserve Minnesota work comp benefits.  The issue is whether this is compensable under the workers’ compensation law.  Generally, an employee who was injured at work going up or down stairs are work injures that are regarded as compensable injuries.   In one case, a delivery driver’s knee went out while descending three flights of stairs.  The doctor’s report indicated the delivery driver was injured at work going up or down stairs because that activity put more stress on the knee than would have occurred on a flat surface.  Consequently, this work injury was held to be compensable under Minnesota workers’ compensation law. In another workers’ compensation case, a woman with preexisting knee problems ran up a set of stairs and her knee buckled.  Despite the preexisting injuries in her knee, the court held that the work activities accelerated or aggravated the preexisting injury and, therefore, it was held to be compensable under the workers’ compensation law. IF YOU WERE INJURED AT WORK GOING UP OR DOWN STAIRS, AT A MINIMUM, SOME LEVEL OF WORK CONNECTION MUST BE ESTABLISHED IN ORDER FOR THE INJURY TO BE COMPENSABLE UNDER MINNESOTA WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LAW. Whether it is going up and/or down a large number of stairs, work boots that cause a fall and resulting work injury, or going up and down steep stairs at work that is above and beyond what someone may encounter at home, something about the stairs must be tied to work duties. HIRE WEST ST. PAUL’S BEST WORKERS COMP LAWYERS Because more and more employees are injured at work going up or down stairs, workmans comp cases involving resulting injuries from stairs are becoming more common.   If you have a stair injury from work, you need an experienced West St. Paul workers’ compensation lawyer to help prove your case.   If you have any questions, please contact our attorneys for a free consultation.

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How Long Can the Police Detain You?

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MOST PEOPLE WONDER HOW LONG CAN POLICE DETAIN YOU OR YOUR VEHICLE DURING A TRAFFIC STOP. The duration of the vehicle stop depends on the initial reason for the traffic stop and any other criminal suspicion that develops after the stop.   The Minnesota Supreme Court states that the duration of the vehicle stop must be temporary and cannot last any longer than is necessary to investigate the initial reason for the traffic stop.  However, there is no concrete time limit for a lawful length of a traffic stop. The police need to suspect other criminal activity separate from the reason for the initial traffic stop before they can continue to lawfully detain the vehicle beyond the time it would have taken to write a traffic citation.   Examples for Determining How Long Minnesota Police Can Detain You In determining how long can police detain you for failing to use a blinker while turning, the officer cannot approach the vehicle and ask the driver if there are drugs in the car.  That would be an unlawful expansion of the reason for the traffic stop.  The officer stopped the vehicle for not using a blinker, not because he suspected there were drugs in the car.  Before the officer can expand the duration of the traffic stop, he would need reason to believe there were drugs in the car.   If the officer thought he smelled marijuana in the vehicle then he could question the driver about having drugs.  In this situation, the officer could detain the driver as long as the officer acted to confirm his suspicions of drugs in the car.  How long police can detain you or your vehicle increases with each additional suspicion of criminal activity. THERE IS NO HARD-AND-FAST TIME LIMIT FOR A LAWFUL TRAFFIC STOP. The duration of the traffic stop will depend on the facts and circumstances surrounding each individual traffic stop situation.  In one case, the Minnesota Supreme Court held a 61 minute traffic stop to be lawful under the circumstances. If you find yourself in the middle of a traffic stop, it is important to remember that you DO NOT have to answer any of the officer’s questions.  You have the absolute right to remain silent.  In most cases, it is in your best interests not to answer any questions.  Instead, simply tell the officer that you are not going to answer any questions without your Minnesota criminal defense lawyer present.   After that, call the St. Paul criminal defense lawyers at Arechigo & Stokka.  Our Minnesota criminal defense lawyers will advise you how to handle the situation and tell you what to say, if anything.  If you find yourself arrested or facing criminal charges following your traffic stop, our St. Paul criminal defense lawyers will investigate the reasons behind the initial traffic stop and the officer’s reasons for expanding the length of the stop.  If the officer unlawfully expanded the duration of your traffic stop, our St. Paul criminal defense lawyers will fight to have the evidence suppressed. Contact our Minnesota criminal defense lawyers today if you or someone you know recently faced an expanded traffic stop.

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How Can Facebook Affect My Employee Benefits?

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Just the other day, a St. Paul work comp client came into my office to discuss his case. I asked him how the church volunteering project went. He looked at me with surprise.  I showed him the pictures, sent to me by the insurance company. They showed him clearing brush, moving rocks, and working around the grounds of the church.   This employee had restrictions that restricted his ability to work AT ALL.  At the time he received full employee benefits allowed under the Minnesota workers’ compensation system while recovering from surgery. My client explained that he really had not worked.  He walked around the grounds while his wife helped the group, visiting with the other parishioners.   Unfortunately, he posted pictures of the day on Facebook.  The insurance company had been monitoring his social media.  If you examined the pictures more carefully it was clear that he was not “working” in any of them.  He was standing in front of the camera in most and doing nothing.  In one he was holding a piece of brush. THE INSURANCE COMPANY USED THIS AS AN EXCUSE TO DENY HIM EMPLOYEE BENEFITS. Although the work comp case eventually settled for a significant amount, the pictures the employee posted on Facebook made it much more difficult to obtain employee benefits.  I now tell all my work comp clients to stay off social media pending resolution of their case.   Innocuous pictures can be used to suggest that an employee is lying about the nature and extent of their injury, which may give the insurance company support to deny Minnesota work comp employee benefits. HIRE SOUTH ST. PAUL’S BEST WORKMAN’S COMP ATTORNEYS If an insurance company is using your social media to deny you work comp employee benefits, your case is not over.   Despite what the insurance company may tell you, our St. Paul work comp employee benefits lawyer will make sure we secure the employee benefits you are entitled to.   Our South St. Paul work comp employee benefits lawyer will explain to a judge, at trial if needed, the truth behind the seemingly damaging pictures.   If you need to speak with a Minnesota work comp attorney about obtaining your Minnesota workers compensation employee benefits, please contact our St. Paul work comp employee benefits lawyer at 651-222-6603, for a free consultation.

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Can Police Force You to Unlock Your Phone?

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Can Police Make You Use Your Fingerprint to Unlock Your Phone? Many newer smartphones allow owners to unlock their phone with the touch of their fingerprint. Smartphone manufacturers market the fingerprint lock as an advancement in security.  I would probably bet that a good number of people do not set a passcode lock on their phone because it’s annoying to have to enter a passcode to check your phone every ten minutes.  But, many more people probably would – and do – set up the fingerprint lock feature on their phone.  So, what’s the difference between a fingerprint and a passcode?  Well, when it comes to compelled police searches of your phone, the difference is enormous. Police Can Force You to Use Your Fingerprint to Unlock Your Phone Police can force iPhone – or any other smartphone equipped with fingerprint technology – users to unlock their iPhone if the iPhone is only secured by fingerprint security.  As long as the police have obtained a valid search warrant, they can command an iPhone owner to put her finger on the button and unlock the phone. Police Cannot Force You to Divulge Your Passcode to Unlock Your Phone If your iPhone is protected by a passcode, then the police cannot compel you to disclose the passcode for purposes of forcing you to unlock your phone.  It does not matter if they have secured a search warrant.  A search warrant cannot compel an iPhone owner to disclose the phone’s passcode.  The Fifth Amendment protects us from being forced by the government to provide evidence against ourselves.  This is the right against self-incrimination. Why the Legal Distinction Between A Fingerprint And A Passcode? Courts have drawn a legal line separating a fingerprint from a passcode.  Fingerprints are viewed as who we are rather than what we know.  A passcode is data stored in the brain, something we know.  Fingerprints, on the other hand (sorry, couldn’t resist), are much more accessible and make up our “biometric data.” This is a key distinction for purposes of compelled police searches.  Providing a passcode requires giving an oral statement to the police that potentially incriminates an individual.  Courts refer to this as a “testimonial statement.”  The Fifth Amendment gives us the right to remain silent and prevents the government from compelling a testimonial statement. Fingerprints are classified with DNA samples or voice samples.  This is not viewed as evidence you know; so, forcing you to put your finger on your iPhone is not the same as compelling a testimonial statement.  You’re not being forced to say something you know that potentially incriminates yourself. Moral of the story?  If you know you’re keeping potentially incriminating or unlawful information on your iPhone, best to lock it up with a passcode instead of a fingerprint. Schedule a Consultation With a Criminal Defense Lawyer Contact our criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation.   Our criminal defense lawyers are licensed in Minnesota, North Dakota, and United States District Court.   If the police have unlawfully recovered evidence against you by illegally searching your iPhone, our criminal defense lawyers will fight to have the evidence suppressed.

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What Are Workers Comp Attorney Fees?

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Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Attorney Fees Become Governed By Statute This means that unlike in, for example, a personal injury case, where the attorney has some discretion over what to charge for a fee, the Minnesota legislature heavily regulates what a Minnesota work comp attorney can charge.   There are several different types of workers’ compensation lawyer fees: 1. Contingency Fee  This is one of the main methods for payment of Minnesota workers’ compensation attorney fees.   Minnesota Statute § 176.081, subd. 1(a) permits these fees.   For injuries from 1995 to October 2013, this section permitted a Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer a fee of 25% of the first $4,000 and 20% of the next $60,000 of compensation awarded to the injured employee so long as the fees are calculated on genuinely disputed claims or portions of claims.   All fees for legal services pertaining to the same injury are cumulative and may not exceed $13,000. Fees for obtaining disputed medical or rehabilitation benefits are included in the $13,000 limit. In October 2013, the statute was amended to state that a fee for legal services of 20% of the first $130,000 of compensation awarded to the employee is the maximum permissible fee. 2. Irwin/Roraff Fees   The statute went under modification in 1995 to provide that the $13,000 limit on work comp attorney fees was the maximum possible fee for all legal services related to the same injury, including attorney fees paid for by the employer/insurer.   In Irwin v. Surdyk’s Liquor, the Minnesota Supreme Court held that the limitations on attorney fees in the 1995 amendments to the Minnesota Statute were unconstitutional in that they impinged upon the court’s inherent power to oversee attorneys and attorney fees. 3. Fees in Excess of Maximum  Under Irwin, to get a fee more than the statutory limit, the court set forth a list of factors to consider the compensation judge in the determination of Minnesota workers’ compensation attorney fees: The amount involved Time and expense necessary to prepare for trial The responsibility assumed by counsel The expertise of counsel The difficulty of the issues The nature of the proof involved The results obtained 4. Fees on Intervenor Recoveries  These are usually companies that have provided medical treatment or wage replacement benefits such as a short term disability plan. Minnesota Statute § 176.361, permits any “person” who has an interest in any matter before the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals, Commissioner or compensation judge, such that the person may either gain or lose by an order or decision, to file an application or motion to intervene.   Issues arise whether and to what extent an intervenor must contribute to the attorney fees or costs incurred in establishing the injured employee’s entitlement to Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits that result in a recovery for the intervenor.   The main case involved in this issue is Edquist v. Browning-Ferris. The Statutory Scheme That Outlines Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Attorney Fees Is to the Benefit of Injured Workers. A Minnesota work comp lawyer only entitles to make a claim for workers’ compensation attorney fees on genuine disputes. This means that if you hire a work comp lawyer at the beginning of your claim, and the employer/insurer does not dispute anything (wage loss, medical, etc.), the work comp attorney cannot make a claim for fees.   Also, many attorney fees become paid for by an employer/insurer.   For example, if an injured worker’s doctor requests to perform an MRI, the insurer denies payment, and the Minnesota work comp lawyer succeeds in getting the MRI paid for, those fees become paid for by the insurer/employer. Because of this, it is important for an injured employee to obtain a Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer at the beginning of the case for a few reasons.   One, many different time deadlines exist that you must adhere to and failure to adhere to them can adversely affect the case.   Second, if a dispute does arise our MN work comp attorney has all the information and can make a quick decision and take quick action on the case. Our lawyers will review your work comp case to make sure you are getting all the benefits you deserve.   Our Minneapolis/St. Paul’s work comp lawyers will take the time to explain how workers’ compensation attorney fees factor into your case so you can make appropriate decisions regarding your work comp case. We’ll take care of everything else. Submit the short form below to setup a consultation.

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How Long Can You Collect Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

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Workers’ compensation benefits provide a lifeline to injured workers and their families. Workers’ comp not only covers medical bills to treat a workers’ injuries, but can also provide wage loss benefits when the worker cannot return to his or her old job. One question we receive is “How long can you receive workers’ compensation benefits?” This is a perfectly valid question, especially if you have been so injured that you are not earning as much as you did before. Many workers are rightfully afraid that their benefits will run out. Wage Loss Benefits Minnesota’s workers’ compensation system provides for four types of wage loss benefits that can replace some or all of the income you have lost because of an injury. Temporary total disability: the worker cannot return to work temporarily because of an injury. Temporary partial disability: the worker has temporary physical restrictions due to the injury that keeps him or her from making the same amount as before the accident. Permanent partial disability: the worker has lost the use of a body part, such as a hand or foot. Permanent total disability: the worker cannot return to work at all because of a disability. Remember that wage loss benefits only replace a portion of your lost wages, so even under the best circumstances, injured workers lose money. Duration of Temporary Disability Benefits Temporary wage loss benefits don’t last forever. Instead, the following limits apply: Temporary total disability: maximum of 130 weeks Temporary partial disability: maximum of 225 weeks Workers should talk with their doctor about their expected recovery time and what they need to do to reach maximum medical improvement. If you have a partial disability, you can hopefully pick up new skills so that you can transition to a new job. Duration of Permanent Total Disability Workers with the most severe injuries will be out of the workplace possibly forever and can draw permanent total disability benefits until retirement. (If you have a permanent partial disability, you might receive payment in a lump sum.) Under the law, the age of retirement is presumed to be age 67. Of course, a worker can try to rebut this presumption by proving to a judge that he or she would have continued working past age 67. In reality, though, this is very hard to do, and most people who are totally disabled see their benefits end at age 67. Get all the Benefits You Are Entitled To It should come as no surprise that many employers and insurers try to force injured workers back into work, or they try to cut off benefits early. You might need an attorney to help you get the compensation you deserve. At Arechigo & Stokka, we have helped countless injured workers maximize the amount of compensation they can receive. Doing so affords them peace of mind, as they know their expenses and their loved ones will be taken care of. Contact us today. We offer a free, no-risk compensation where we can learn more about your accident and injuries.

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Can You Collect Workers’ Compensation and Short-Term Disability at the Same Time?

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Workers’ compensation insurance and short-term disability (STD) insurance are very different. Workers’ compensation covers injuries that are sustained on the job or illnesses that a worker contracts because of their job. By contrast, short-term disability insurance covers injuries that happen outside the workplace. For example, if you fall at work and get a concussion, you might be out of work for 8 weeks. You can receive workers’ compensation wage loss benefits during this time because you were injured on the job. However, you can’t get STD benefits because they don’t cover on-the-job injuries. Conversely, if you were injured in a skiing accident while on vacation, then you will probably draw STD benefits because you were injured outside work. You were not injured on the job. For these reasons, the answer to the question “Can you collect workers’ comp and short-term disability at the same time?” is usually “no.” Why is My Employer Telling Me to File for Short-Term Disability? Short-term disability insurance is usually offered through an insurer as an employee benefit. Your employer probably picks the insurer and you have the option of selecting short-term disability insurance. You might pay all or part of the premiums for the STD policy. If you were injured, your employer might tell you to apply for STD benefits—even if you were injured on the job. Clearly, this is the wrong advice. Most STD policies contain provisions stating that workers’ comp is responsible for wage loss benefits when you are injured on the job. Sometimes, an employer is confused about how workers’ comp and short-term disability relate to each other, so perhaps the wrong advice was in good faith. In other situations, however, an employer wants to file for short-term disability benefits precisely so you don’t make a claim on their workers’ comp insurance policy. Often, an employer is afraid that your claim will cause the insurance premiums to increase. To keep that from happening, your employer tells you to file for STD benefits instead. This is not a legitimate request, and you should meet with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your options. What if Short-Term Disability Pays More? Unfortunately, you can’t make a false claim to receive STD benefits, so you can’t say you were injured outside work if that is not true. Furthermore, most short-term disability policies only provide benefits for a year. The workers’ comp system, which is much larger, could potentially pay permanent wage loss benefits, depending on your injury. It is to your benefit to go through the workers’ compensation system if you were injured on the job. Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Attorneys If you have been injured, you are probably worried about how you will replace your lost income. Contact Arechigo & Stokka today. Our firm has helped many workers receive the benefits they need after a terrible workplace accident. We can guide you through the workers’ compensation process and handle any appeal. Contact us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

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