Individuals who are hurt at work in Minnesota may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits, which, in addition to medical expense benefits and rehabilitation benefits, can include significant monetary benefits.
We often meet with potential Minnesota workers’ compensation clients who tell us that they just want to get the medical care they need and get on with their lives. They tell us they don’t want any money, they just want to get back to work, and they don’t want their employer to think poorly of them if they hire a lawyer. While this is an admirable attitude to have, all injured workers should know a few things about monetary benefits available under Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits.
• The amount of your wage loss benefits is usually dependent on how much money you earned in the 26 weeks preceding your date of injury. This calculation method is used to determine your Average Weekly Wage (AWW). Your AWW is used to calculate wage loss benefits, including temporary total disability (TTD) benefits, temporary partial (TPD) disability benefits, and permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. In some cases, a different calculation rule may apply. Determining an injured workers’ correct AWW is important to determining the appropriate compensation rate for wage loss benefits. Calculation errors or under-calculations can cost an injured worker hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
• There is no pain and suffering compensation available in a Minnesota workers’ compensation case. Compensation paid on a work injury claim is based strictly on the benefits available under the law. “Pain and suffering” or “loss of enjoyment of life” are monetary damages awarded by judges or juries in personal injury cases, not workers’ compensation cases. Even the most horribly painful injury will not warrant any compensation for pain and suffering if it is a workers’ compensation injury in Minnesota. In some workers’ compensation cases, however, there may be what’s known as a third-party liability claim, or a personal injury claim, against someone other than an injured workers’ employer or a co-worker, which can include damages for pain and suffering.
• Permanent partial disability awards are available only to injured workers whose injuries are permanent. Permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits are available to injured workers in Minnesota who have suffered a permanent injury. A worker in Minnesota who sustains a serious, but temporary injury, is not eligible for permanent partial disability benefits. For workers who have sustained a permanent injury, your doctor should assign a permanent partial disability rating based on the Minnesota PPD schedules once you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). This rating is often a source of disagreement in workers’ compensation cases. In some cases, five different doctors might come up with five different ratings.
• Insurers sometimes close a Minnesota workers’ compensation case without obtaining a permanent partial disability (PPD) rating from the injured worker's treating physician. On occasion, this may be because the primary treating physician simply isn’t familiar with the workers’ compensation PPD schedules or the rules governing timing of assigning a PPD rating. In other cases, the doctor, unfortunately, simply doesn’t want to be bothered. In yet other cases, the insurer never requests a rating from the doctor, and a rating is never issued, even though the worker clearly has a permanent injury. We routinely see cases that were supposedly “closed” by the insurance company, where the worker was clearly entitled to several thousand dollars’ worth of permanent partial disability benefits.
• It may be difficult, if not impossible, to predict how much money an injured worker will get for a Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) award at the outset of the claim. When an injured worker comes for a consultation at the beginning of his or her claim, our attorney may not be able to predict how much money will be awarded for PPD, because we don’t know the extent, if any, of any permanent injuries that individual may have until that worker has gone through a course of medical treatment. For some types of injuries, we can give a ballpark estimate on the permanent partial disability, but others depend on loss of range of motion, review of MRI’s or operative reports, or neurological testing. Aside from the value of a claim for permanent partial disability benefits, an injured worker’s case may have additional monetary value for wage loss benefits and other workers’ compensation benefits.
• The workers’ compensation insurance company is not required under the law to offer you a settlement on your workers’ compensation case. One of the most common questions we at Meuser Law hear is: “when does the insurer have to offer me a settlement?” The answer is: They don’t. That being said, in many, many cases, we are able to secure a settlement on behalf of our clients. There are a variety of different types of Minnesota workers’ compensation settlements. An injured worker is well advised to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer before attempting to settle his or her case. There’s simply too much at stake to try to “wing it” when you’re looking at settling your workers’ compensation case, particularly if your injuries are serious, or if you’ve missed significant time from work.
Even if you have an “admitted” Minnesota workers’ compensation claim, meaning that the insurer is paying your benefits, as a rule, it’s not a matter of IF there will be a dispute on your case—it’s a matter of when. At every turn, the workers’ compensation insurer is looking for ways to minimize the amount of benefits they have to pay on your claim. You need to look out for your best interests!
To learn more about the benefits available to workers’ hurt on the job in Minnesota, call Meuser Law Office, P.A. at 877-746-5680 or click here to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.