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Police Officers, Firefighters, PERA, Workers’ Compensation and Choosing the Right Lawyer

Topics

PERA

Workers' Compensation

Personal Injury

Minnesota police officers and firefighters who sustain serious on-the-job injuries may be eligible for PERA duty disability benefits and/or health care continuation benefits, in addition to workers’ compensation benefits. PERA disability benefits and health care continuation benefits can be worth several hundred thousand dollars. Choosing the wrong workers’ compensation lawyer can cost you.
For injured police officers and firefighters, choosing the right Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer is an important decision. If your workers’ compensation lawyer can’t or won’t help you with your PERA claims, it’s a good idea to consult with a lawyer who can and will handle PERA claims.

We occasionally speak with people who are not happy with how things are being handled by their current Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer. We would be happy to offer a free consultation on your situation and give you an honest assessment as to whether it might be appropriate to change lawyers. You always have the right to change to a different workers’ compensation lawyer, at no additional cost to you.

What is frustrating to us, however, is when we meet with a police officer or firefighter who is represented by an otherwise competent workers’ compensation lawyer but is given poor advice regarding their claims for PERA disability benefits, or who is not being advised at all. We’ve met with people who are told not to file for PERA or to wait for an excessive length of time. There are timing issues that pertain to filing PERA claims and mistakes can cost an injured police officer or firefighter thousands of dollars. There are people we’ve met with who are told that their attorney doesn’t practice in that area so they can’t give them any guidance and, as a result, their PERA disability claim doesn’t get filed, or languishes, jeopardizing the claim. We’ve also met with people whose workers’ compensation claims are handled in such a way that it jeopardizes their PERA claim. For injured police officers and firefighters, workers’ compensation benefits are important and valuable; however, for most disabled police officers and firefighters, PERA disability benefits and Health Care Continuation benefits are far more important and more valuable!

With rare exception, if you are a Minnesota police officer or firefighter who has sustained a career-ending, in-the-line-of-duty injury, the value of your PERA disability benefits and healthcare continuation benefits substantially exceeds the value of your workers’ compensation claim. In my opinion, in most cases, your lawyer’s first priority should be evaluating your PERA disability claims.

As a workers’ compensation lawyer, telling your police and fire clients that you don’t handle PERA claims is really doing them an expensive disservice by not expeditiously helping them get these benefits. Even worse, if you don’t have a firm handle on the complexities surrounding these claims, it's easy to make errors that could literally cost your police officer or firefighter clients hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of benefits.

Meuser Law Office has taken over representation on a number of police officer and firefighter cases where their prior attorney dropped the ball on the PERA claims. On two cases, our client was told by their prior attorney that they don’t handle PERA claims and couldn’t answer their questions. On one of those cases, the client’s PERA claim should have been filed at least six months before our involvement. On another case, the client tried to file for PERA on her own, and made mistakes that required a hearing to sort out and almost cost her hundreds of thousands of dollars. One of our clients was told by her prior attorney NOT to file for PERA. We encountered one situation where our client’s prior workers’ compensation attorney was pursuing a strategy that would have netted him a few thousand extra dollars on his workers’ compensation case, but it would have cost him in excess of a hundred thousand dollars on his PERA duty disability and healthcare continuation claims. Unfortunately, one client’s prior attorney settled her workers’ compensation claim in such a way that she now has to delay being able to proceed with her PERA duty disability claim. Some of these mistakes can’t be undone.

Over the years, our firm has handled workers’ compensation claims on behalf of hundreds of Minnesota police officers and firefighters. Over time, we realized that in order to do a good job for our police officer and firefighter clients, we had to also help them with their claims for PERA disability benefits. We’ve proudly and successfully handled PERA and Health Care Continuation claims on behalf of hundreds of Minnesota police officers and firefighters beginning with the application stage, all the way through the Court of Appeals.

Meuser Law Office, P.A. is one of the few workers’ compensation law firms in the state (if not the only law firm in the state) that also regularly handles PERA claims. If you’re an injured police officer or firefighter, from your first consultation with a workers’ compensation lawyer, you should feel confident that your lawyer also knows how to file a claim for PERA benefits. This is a complicated area of law with a lot of nuances. Ask your lawyer how many PERA cases they’ve handled. Is he or she able to answer your specific questions? Can they give you an analysis as to whether or not you meet the Duty Disability criteria?

We’re proud of the work we do for our Minnesota police officer and firefighter clients. After successfully handling hundreds of PERA Police and Fire disability claims, we know what we’re doing, and our results demonstrate that.

Even if you’re currently represented by a different workers’ compensation lawyer, if you are a disabled Minnesota police officer or firefighter, we are always happy to provide you with a free consultation to discuss your potential PERA and healthcare continuation claims.


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