A question commonly asked by our clients is:
How much will my employer have to pay me for the pain and suffering I’ve had to endure because of my work injury?
Unfortunately, the answer is nothing.
While Minnesota workers’ compensation provides a variety of benefits, including medical expense benefits, wage loss benefits, permanent partial disability benefits, and rehabilitation benefits, intangible losses, such as pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life, are not covered.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning that it is not necessary for an injured worker to prove that his or her employer was at fault for injuries in order to recover workers’ compensation benefits.
Basically, when Minnesota workers’ compensation laws were developed, they were based on a trade-off theory. An injured worker receives compensation for injuries he or she sustains at work regardless of fault, but the nature and extent of benefits is limited to those specific types of benefits set forth in Chapter 176 of the Minnesota Statutes, the Workers’ Compensation Act. An injured worker gives up the right to sue his or her employer for tort damages, including intangible losses such as pain and suffering.
In the vast majority of cases, work injuries aren’t really anyone’s fault per se. They most often occur due to an accident, where no one is at fault. On one hand, when an on-the-job injury occurs as a result of an employer’s fault or negligence or the fault or negligence of a co-worker, the injured worker is still limited to the remedies available under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act.
On the other hand, a worker who sustains injuries as the result of an accident, where no party is at fault, is still eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Even if the employee’s injuries are due to his or her own negligence, in most cases, that employee is covered by workers’ compensation.
Is this always fair? Certainly not. There are cases that involve egregious conduct on the part of an employer or a co-worker. There are cases that involve terrible pain and suffering where the compensation available under the Workers’ Compensation Act is truly inadequate.
We do see cases where the workers’ compensation benefits are truly inadequate to compensate an injured worker for his or her losses. However, the workers’ compensation system provides no-fault insurance for nearly all workers in the State of Minnesota for on-the-job injuries without requiring the injured worker to sue his or her employer, and without requiring the injured worker to prove that the employer was at fault for his or her injuries.
Even though pain and suffering is not covered, workers’ compensation in Minnesota does provide a variety of benefits, including medical expense benefits, wage loss benefits, vocational rehabilitation benefits, and permanent partial disability benefits.
Moreover, cases where an employee’s injuries are due to the fault of a third-party, other than the employer or a co-worker, the injured worker may be able to bring a civil liability claim against the at-fault party in addition to a claim for Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits.
For a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about your Minnesota workers’ compensation rights, call Meuser Law Office, P.A. at 877-746-5680 or click here to fill out a form.