Common Questions And Answers About Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Claims
Workers’ compensation is one of those areas of life that most people rarely think about until it suddenly becomes important to them. At Malone & Atchison, with offices in Edina, St. Cloud and Brainerd, we regularly answer questions that prospective and existing clients ask us, such as the following:
Is a workers’ compensation claim the same as a lawsuit against my employer?
No. The workers’ compensation system was designed to protect both employees and employers from expensive litigation as well as delays in the delivery of medical treatment for injured workers.
When you tap into your rightful workers’ compensation benefits, your employer’s insurer or your self-insured employer will pay for your medical care and, if necessary, protect your cash flow through wage loss benefits and, possibly, occupational retraining. You may also be entitled to payment if you’ve sustained a permanent injury.
If a third party, such as an equipment manufacturer or a subcontractor, caused the accident that injured you on the job, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against them. You may be compensated for pain and suffering. This third-party liability claim will be separate from your workers’ compensation claim.
What is an independent medical exam (IME)?
Under Minnesota law, if you suffer an injury while on the job, you “must submit to examination by the employer’s physician, if requested by the employer.” (MN Revisor Sec. 176.155) The purpose of the exam is to determine whether an injury is present, the extent of the injury and whether it was work related. Usually, employers request an independent medical exam because they want to determine whether you should continue to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Because refusal to take part in an independent medical exam can result in the suspension of your workers’ compensation benefits, it’s considered a good idea to speak to a lawyer prior to the examination. A lawyer can make sure you understand all of your rights, including the right to have your own personal physician present at the exam, among others.
What is a qualified rehabilitation consultant?
A qualified rehabilitation consultant (QRC) is an individual who is registered with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) and provides vocational rehabilitation services to workers who have suffered injuries on the job and are off work as a result of their injuries. In short, a QRC assists an injured worker by facilitating medical care and making sure any job returned to is safely within your doctor’s restrictions.
Although your employer may pay for the services of a QRC, you do have the right to choose your own QRC counselor; just know that you have a specific time window in which to select one.
I want to receive treatment from my own doctor, not one chosen by my employer. Is that OK?
Under Minnesota law, the employee has the right to choose a treating medical provider. However, a physician will be deemed selected where an employee accepts a physician furnished by the employer. Often, courts allow the employee to change treating physicians provided a reasonable basis exists for the request.
Your employer or their workers’ compensation insurer may first send you to a particular clinic for an initial evaluation and treatment. If your employer or their insurer participates in a managed care plan, you may be allowed to choose an additional doctor outside of their network. If the doctor is one with whom you had a relationship before being injured.
To get the most reliable answer to this type of question about your workers’ compensation case, consult with an experienced attorney early in the process.
How does workers’ compensation cover lost wages if I work multiple jobs?
The good news is that the calculation of lost wages is based on your average weekly wage, which means if you work multiple jobs, they will be taken into consideration for the purposes of workers’ compensation benefits. There are several methods used to calculate an injured worker’s average weekly wage and may depend upon the type of work you perform. Many factors can be involved in calculating the average weekly wage. It’s important that it be calculated correctly as ongoing wage loss benefits are based on that value.
My injury was classified as a Gillette injury. What does that mean?
A Gillette injury is specific to the Minnesota workers’ compensation system, and it refers to a disabling injury that is caused by repetitive trauma. Often called a repetitive motion injury or repetitive stress injury in other states, a Gillette injury develops over a period of time and does not stem from a singular event. Unlike other states, Minnesota has caselaw to support workers’ compensation claims for Gillette injuries, which makes the process of seeking benefits slightly less difficult.
After my on-the-job injury, I am caught in a dispute with my employer, the workers’ compensation insurer or a medical provider. What can I do?
In cases where disputes arise, there are avenues to pursue resolution, including filing a medical request, a rehabilitation request, or a request for a 1239 conference when benefits have been discontinued. In some cases, mediation is also utilized to resolve those disputes.
To explore your options, consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer to discuss how an attorney can help you resolve disputes by filing the appropriate requests to avoid delays. Your case may be resolved through mediation.
Are there jurisdictional restrictions when applying for workers’ compensation in Minnesota?
Yes. While many workers’ compensation claims come from Minnesota workers who were injured while on the job in Minnesota, some workers may suffer injuries while performing work outside of the state. Others may be out-of-state workers who suffered injuries while on the job in Minnesota. If this is the case, jurisdiction may come into play.
Thankfully, in Minnesota, out-of-state workers who suffer any injury while on the job in our state and Minnesota workers who suffer an injury while working a job out-of-state are likely covered by the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act. Workers who fall into either of these categories and who wish to receive workers’ compensation for their injuries must file an extraterritorial application per the rules of Minnesota Statutes, Sec. 176.041 (2). It’s important to understand that there are specific requirements that must be met in order to quality for this specific extraterritorial jurisdiction, so speaking to a lawyer ahead of time is always considered a good idea.
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