How Minnesota’s Workers’ Compensation System Works
Workers’ compensation laws in Minnesota are intended to provide financial support to employees who suffer injuries in workplace accidents. All employers are required to carry worker’s compensation insurance to cover work-related medical conditions, so filing a claim with the insurer is the first step in obtaining monetary benefits. Once you’ve missed three days of work because of an injury or illness, your employer must submit a report to the insurer. The company must then either reject your claim or begin issue workers’ compensation payments.
Unlike other personal injury claims, you don’t have to prove that your employer was at fault. However, the caveat is that your sole remedy for a workplace injury or illness is the workers’ compensation system. You cannot recover compensation by initiating a personal injury lawsuit, and your benefits do not cover non-economic damages like pain and suffering. There are three exceptions to workers’ compensation being your exclusive legal option:
- Your employer fails to procure workers’ compensation insurance as required by law;
- Intentional conduct was the direct cause of your injuries; or,
- A third-party was responsible for the workplace accident, such as a contractor, vendor, or business partner of your employer.
If any of these exceptions apply, you can file a lawsuit in civil court to recover both economic and non-economic damages. It’s important to discuss your circumstances with an MN work comp attorney to determine the best way to proceed.
Benefits are Available for Qualifying Employees
As long as you’re an employee, and you suffer from a work-related medical condition, it’s likely that you qualify for workers compensation benefits. Even minors and part-time workers are covered by the system, though independent contractors are not eligible to receive benefits. If your claim is approved by your employer’s insurer, you may be entitled to:
- Medical Expenses: You can recover the costs for all medical care that’s reasonable and necessary to treat your ailment, currently and in the future. This coverage includes travel expenses and supplies, such as crutches and other assistive devices.
- Lost Wages: You may be able to receive a percentage of the income you lose from being out of work due to disability. Lost wages benefits may be temporary or permanent, and partial or total.
- Vocational Support: In a situation where you’re unable to return to your previous occupation, workers’ compensation benefits may include training, education, and vocational services. The goal is to put you in a position to become self-sufficient.
- Death Benefits: If an employee dies due to a workplace injury or illness, a surviving spouse and other dependents may be eligible to receive death benefits.
Reasons Your Claim May Be Denied
Even when you believe you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, you may be surprised when the insurance company rejects your claim and refuses to pay. In some cases, the denial is legitimate, such as where:
- You don’t qualify as an employee, perhaps because you’re an independent contractor;
- You waited too long to report your injury or illness, as Minnesota law requires you to inform your employer within 14 days;
- You didn’t attend an independent medical exam after being requested by your employer;
- Your medical condition isn’t related to a workplace accident or conditions; or,
- You didn’t provide sufficient medical records and other information to support your claim.
Still, there are other improper reasons an insurer may deny your claim, which is why hiring a Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer is critical. For instance, many employers may try to misclassify you as an independent contractor – even when there is a true employer-employee relationship. Another wrongful denial might be where you were hurt on the job but terminated before you filed your claim. An insurance company may even contest the severity of your injuries or dispute the fact that your medical condition is a result of workplace conditions.
An MN Work Comp Attorney Can Help with Next Steps
You do have options if the insurance company denies your claim. It’s possible to take the matter to the Workers’ Compensation Division, where you’ll attempt to resolve the issues through alternative dispute resolution or mediation. The process can be highly complex, as it involves going through a proceeding that’s similar to being in court. In such a situation, legal representation from a Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer is essential. You risk losing out on benefits that are rightfully yours unless you have legal counsel on your side.
Discuss Your Claim with a Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you were hurt at work or suffer from a work-related medical condition, it’s important to work with experienced lawyers who will protect your rights throughout the claims process. Our team at Arechigo & Stokka, P.A. is prepared to advocate on your behalf, so please contact us today. You can set up a complimentary assessment at our St. Paul, MN office by calling 651-222-6603 or contacting us online. We can provide more information on your rights and legal remedies after reviewing the details of your case.