Overview of Workers’ Compensation Long-Term Disability Laws in Minnesota
Minnesota’s workers’ compensation system is designed to provide financial support to qualifying employees who are injured in on-the-job accidents or suffer an ailment related to workplace conditions. Instead of seeking compensation through a personal injury case, a worker can file a workers’ compensation claim to receive monetary benefits. You don’t have to prove that your employer was at fault since the law requires companies to carry workers’ compensation insurance to pay valid claims.
There are two special considerations to note with respect to the state’s workers’ compensation system.
- While there are multiple categories of monetary benefits available for employees, it’s not possible to recover compensation for non-economic damages in a workers’ compensation claim. Pain, suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, and related losses are not covered.
- The workers’ compensation system is your sole remedy as an employee suffering from a work-related medical condition. You cannot file a civil lawsuit in court unless your situation falls within one of the limited exceptions. You can only seek compensation through litigation if:
- Your employer doesn’t carry workers’ compensation insurance as required by law;
- Intentional misconduct was the reason for your injuries; or,
- A third party was responsible for the harm you suffer.
Eligibility Rules and Benefits
Minnesota law requires all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance, even those with just one full- or part-time employee. Therefore, it’s likely that you qualify if you’re a true employee, instead of an independent contractor. Another eligibility rule is that you must have been hurt in an on-the-job accident or suffer from an illness that was caused or exacerbated by conditions in the workplace. If you qualify and meet the requirements for notification, you can recover such benefits as:
- Medical expenses;
- Vocational rehabilitation;
- Death benefits, if a loved one died because of a work-related medical condition; and,
- Lost wages, once you miss three days of work.
Workers’ Compensation Long-Term Disability Benefits
The intent of the workers’ compensation system is to get you back to health as quickly as possible, so you can return to your job and earn a steady income. However, in some cases, your injury or illness prevents you from resuming your regular employment. Alternatively, you may be employable, but you’re limited in your capabilities or cannot do the same job.
In such situations, you may qualify for long-term disability benefits. Depending on your unique circumstances, you could be eligible for total or partial benefits, on a temporary or permanent basis.
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits: This type of payment covers a percentage of your lost wages while you’re recovering from your medical condition. You can receive benefits until you return to work or for a maximum number of weeks.
- Temporary Partial Disability Benefits: In some cases, you can work, but you’re earning less because of your physical limitations. Temporary partial disability benefits make up for this discrepancy by paying a portion of the difference.
- Permanent Partial Disability Benefits: If you reach a point where your medical condition is no longer improving, you may be eligible to receive benefits on a permanent basis. Workers’ compensation pays a percentage of the difference between your pre-injury and post-injury wages if you can return to work in a limited capacity.
- Permanent Total Disability Benefits: You can receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage if you’re totally, permanently disabled. Minnesota law presumes that this is the case if:
- You lose functionality of both arms, eyes, feet, hands, or legs;
- You’re permanently, completely paralyzed; or,
- Your medical condition leads to mental disability.
Your Maximum Medical Improvement
The key for long-term disability workers’ compensation benefits is your Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). Generally, your MMI is the time when your medical condition has stabilized and you’re no longer healing. The statutory definition of MMI is expressed as a date in time, after which no further recovery or lasting improvement is anticipated. The determination is made by a qualified medical examiner or health care provider, and the relevant factors include:
- Whether you’ve experienced lasting improvement;
- The likelihood of significant improvement in the future, regardless of treatment;
- Whether your treating physicians have tried all options that could be expected to improve your condition;
- How well the additional treatment will stabilize your condition; and,
- Whether treatment relieves your symptoms, temporarily or intermittently.
Once you do reach MMI and still cannot work at all, you may qualify for permanent total disability benefits. If upon reaching MMI, you can work on a limited basis, you could be eligible for permanent partial disability benefits.
Trust Our Minnesota Workers’ Compensation and Long-Term Disability Attorneys
Claims for long-term disability under the MN workers’ compensation system present unique challenges, which is why it’s essential to retain lawyers that know the laws and the claims process. To learn more about your rights, please contact Arechigo & Stokka, P.A. by calling 651-222-6603 or filling out our online form. You can schedule a no-cost consultation at our St. Paul office to hear how a workers’ compensation long-term disability lawyer can assist with protecting your future.