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There are several types of workers compensation injuries not covered under Minnesota workers compensation law. As a general rule, a workers compensation injury is not covered under workers comp unless the injury “arose out of and in the course of employment.”

There has been a lot of case law and dispute about the meaning of the phrase “arose out of and in the course of employment”, and the courts have not defined it specifically.  Rather, the courts have chosen to address it on a case-by-case basis.

Over time, the courts developed different theories to determine whether a sufficient causal connection between the employment and the work injury exists. There are also types of workers compensation injuries not covered under Minnesota work comp. These are:

1.  Injuries Caused by Acts of God: Consideration of this issue has ranged from injuries caused by weather to disease. The courts determine this issue by looking at whether the employee, because of his work duties, was exposed to increased risk that the general public was not.

2.  Traveling Employees: Minnesota follows the majority rule in treating injuries sustained while traveling to and from work as not compensable under the “coming and going rule”. As in many other areas, there has been litigation over this issue as well and there are several exceptions to this rule.

3.  Acts of Third Parties or Co-Employees:  On this issue, the courts have drawn a distinction between the “in the course of employment” and the “arising out of” test.  While many actions of third parties or co-workers that result in an injury may be in the course of employment, as it relates to the “arising out of” test, the issue becomes whether the conduct that caused the injury was directed against the employee for some reason other than the employee’s employment.

The statute (subd. 16) governing this situation reads, injury arising out of and in the course of employment… shall not include an injury caused by the act of a third person or fellow employee because of personal reasons and not directed against the employee as an employee, or because of the employment.

As with other areas, whether the act was for personal reasons or not can be in dispute.  If you have a question about whether an injury may be compensable in this type of situation, you need to contact an experienced Minnesota comp lawyer.

4.  Idiopathic Injuries:  The dictionary definition of idiopathic is: “Peculiar to the individual.” No area of the “arising out of” question, for injuries that occurred in the course of employment, has created more case law than this issue. Examples include an unexplained fall while walking on a flat surface, a fall caused by a personal heart attack or seizure, sudden pain while walking, or sudden knee pain while standing up from a seated position.


If you have suffered an injury at work in Minnesota that may have occurred under some of the circumstances described above, it is important to contact an experienced work comp attorney. Our Minneapolis/St. Paul workers’ compensation lawyers will review your case and determine whether your workers compensation injury is covered.

Author Photo Joshua R. Stokka

Josh has been representing injured workers for over 10 years. Josh was born and raised in Fargo, North Dakota, and attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminology. Mr. Stokka alson received his law degree from the Hamline University School of Law. During law school, Josh clerked at a Minnesota law firm specializing in personal injury and workers’ compensation. Prior to practicing in the area of workers’ compensation, Josh clerked for a judge in the 7th Judicial District in Minnesota. This valuable experience gave him insight into how judges think, do their jobs behind the scene, and how to frame a case in order to obtain a favorable result.  Now, he focuses 100% of his practice on defending injured workers in Minnesota.

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