With more than 40 years experience in workers’ compensation, Jackson S. Baehman Law can provide strong legal representation for your workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation law is complicated, thus it is important for you to have experienced, specialized legal representation in order to prevail on your claim and recover the benefits you deserve.
Workers’ compensation claims are governed by the Workers’ Compensation Act, Chapter 176. Essentially any injuries that occur during the course and scope of employment qualifies under the Act. Many injuries occur as a result of a specific incident like a low back injury as a result of lifting a heavy box or like a shoulder injury while pulling a heavy cart.
If you are involved in an auto accident while working, it is also considered a work injury, and qualifies under the Workers’ Compensation Act. Workers’ compensation coverage is primary over motor vehicle coverage. Because some of the benefits are the same, and others are different, you may have claims under both. Jackson S. Baehman Law handles both types of cases, workers’ compensation and personal injury; thus, we can provide you with legal representation and advice on both.
Many injuries occur as a result of repetitive activity over time on a day-to-day basis, and not as a result of a specific injury. A common example is carpel tunnel syndrome from performing intricate hand movements all day like in an assembly line or performing data processing. Or it could be a low back injury from repeatedly bending and lifting items every day at work.
Other injuries are consequential injuries as a result of a previous work injury. For example, if you had a previous right shoulder injury, and due to this injury you started using your left shoulder more, you could develop a consequential left shoulder injury. Or because of your previous work injury, you become depressed due to the ongoing chronic pain, this could also be considered a consequential injury.
Yet further, some injuries occur as a result of occupational exposure to chemicals, asbestos, or other toxic substances over time.
What type of benefits are you entitled to under the Workers’ Compensation Act? Generally:
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are benefits you are entitled to receive if you are not working at all as a result of your work injury. You are paid 2/3rds of your average weekly wage at the time of injury.
- Temporary Partial Disability Benefits If you are injured, are still able to work with restrictions, but are earning less than what you were before your work injury, then you could be entitled to temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits. For example, if prior to your work injury, you were able to work 8 hours per day, but afterwards you were only able to work 4 hours per day, you could be entitled to TPD benefits. TPD benefits are computed by subtracting your post-injury earnings from your average weekly wage and multiplying it by 2/3rds.
- Permanent Partial Disability Benefits If your workers’ compensation injury is permanent, you could be entitled to permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. This is typically determined by a doctor who gives you a PPD rating based upon the relevant Minnesota Rule. You could get paid in either a lump sum or on a weekly basis based upon your average weekly wage.
- Permanent Total Disability Benefits You could be entitled to permanent total disability (PTD) benefits if, based upon your physical disability, in combination with your age, education, training and experience, you are unable to secure anything more than sporadic employment at an insubstantial income. Minn. Stat. 176.101, subp. 5.
If you are PTD, then most likely you could also be entitled to Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). Because Jackson S. Baehman Law also handles SSDI claims, we can also assist you in recovering SSDI benefits.
- Medical Benefits If you need medical treatment as a result of your work injury, your workers’ compensation insurer should pay for this treatment. This not only includes payment for office visits and surgery, but also includes, but is not limited to, payment for physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, mileage to and from medical appointments, medications, durable medical equipment (e.g. braces, crutches), and out-of-pocket expenses. In cases where your injury is significant, this could also include modifications to your house and motor vehicle.
- Rehabilitation If you are restricted in your ability to work as a result of your work injury, you could also be entitled to rehabilitation benefits with a Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant. This includes medical management and vocational assistance. For example, if you have restrictions, the QRC with work with you and your employer to make sure you are not working beyond your restrictions. Or, if you are unable to return to work at your pre-injury employer, a QRC and a job placement vendor can assist you in finding a new job. This includes assistance in drafting a resume, looking for job leads, and developing interviewing skills. In some cases, you could also be entitled to retraining benefits in which you would be retrained to perform a different type of job. If you have a workers' compensation claim, and you are not working with a QRC, you should be.
What are your responsibilities per the Workers' Compensation Act?
You have various rights per the Workers' Compensation Act (like the benefits referenced above), but you also have various responsibilities and obligations per the Workers' Compensation Act in order to be entitled to those benefits. In summary:
1. At various times, the employer and insurer may ask for you to be examined by an "independent" medical examiner. These doctors may be evaluating you to obtain the following information: diagnosis, causation, apportionment, restrictions, MMI, PPD, reasonableness/necessity of medical treatment, and prognosis. Often times these doctors’ IME reports are used to deny benefits, or portions of benefits. This does not mean, however, that you do not have a legitimate claim. The IME report is simply one doctor’s opinion, and can be contradicted by other evidence including your own doctor’s opinion.
2. It is the employee's burden of proof in proving up his or her claim. It is important to have medical evidence to support your claim. Accordingly, when you treat for your work injury, it is important to tell your doctors your job duties and how you were injured. It is especially important to describe your job duties to your doctor if you think that your medical condition is caused by performing work activities over time. That way the doctor can document your injury in the office notes, and prepare a narrative report should one be necessary.
3. If you do not expect to return to work at your preinjury employer, in order to be entitled to wage loss benefits, it is necessary to perform a diligent job search or to be actively looking for a new job. It is important to document this job search on job logs noting who you contact, how many applications you submit, how many interviews you have, what resources you utilize, etc. If you are looking for employment on the internet, it is important to document which web sites you are visiting, and how much time you are spending on the internet. Although a QRC and job placement vendor can assist you with a job search, it is still the employee's responsibility to perform one with or without a QRC or job placement vendor.
4. If you are working with a QRC and job placement vendor, and are not cooperating with rehabilitation assistance, your benefits may be terminated. If your benefits have been terminated for this reason, they may be reinstated at any time if you continue to be a "qualified employee" and choose to cooperate with rehabilitation again. A person is a "qualified employee" essentially if he or she had work-related restrictions and is unable to return to his or her preinjury job.
5. A person who refuses a suitable job offer may also have his or her benefits terminated. For example if your employer offers you a job within your restrictions, and you turn it down simply because you do not like the position, your benefits may be terminated. But, your employer can not force you to work a job that is unreasonable like traveling too far or working third shift when you were hired to work first shift.
6. If you remove yourself from the labor market, your wage loss benefits may be terminated. For example if you are living in the Twin Cities, and then move to the country where there are very few employment opportunities, your wage loss benefits may be terminated. Incarceration would be considered removal from the labor market.
7. In order to be entitled to wage loss benefits, specifically temporary partial disability benefits, your post-injury wages should be representative of your earning capacity. Temporary partial disability benefits should be paid based upon what a disabled employee is able to earn. For example, if an employee could get hired for a job working 40 hours per week earning $500, but rather accepts a job working 10 hours per week earning $100, this could be considered inadequate employment and not representative of his or her earning capacity.
8. An injured employee may not be entitled to wage loss benefits if the reason he or she is not working is a result of a seasonal or economic layoff. The work injury has to be a cause of the wage loss, and if an employee is layed off for reasons that are unrelated to the injury, he or she is not entitled to benefits.
9. For injuries occuring after October 1, 1995, permanent total disability benefits cease at age 67 because the employee is presumed retired from the labor market. This is a rebuttable presumption, however, if the employee can prove that he or she did not intend on retiring at age 67.
10. A superceding intervening injury (a disabling, non-work-related medical condition subsequent to a work injury) may result in the termination of your workers' compensation benefits. For example, if you had a work-related injury, and then were subsequently injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident, there could a basis to deny benefits. If your work injury remains a substantial contributing factor to your disability, a subsequent injury will not necessarily bar your benefits.
11. A termination for cause or misconduct may suspend your wage loss benefits. If the work-related injury is the cause of your inability to obtain or hold new employment, benefits may be reinstated. If your termination with cause occurs prior to 90 days post-service maximum medical, you can be entitled to wage loss benefits if you diligently look for work.
12. You have to reasonably cooperate with recommended medical treatment in order to be entitled to benefits. For example, if your treating physician recommends physical therapy, and you only sporadically parcipate in it, then, your benefits could be denied. You have to do what is reasonably expected of you so that your medical condition improves, and you are able to return to work. You do not, however, required to participate in any medical treatment that is physically intrusive such as surgery.
13. If you are placed at maximum medical improvement (MMI), your temporary total disability benefits may be ceased 90 days post-service of maximum medical improvement. Hence, if the insurance company mails you a letter along with a medical report (most often the IME report) stating you are at MMI, then 90 after you receive the letter, the insurance company may terminate your temporary total disability benefits. This issue is often disputed.
**Throughout the years, the Workers' Compensation Act has changed, and the law in effect on the date of your injury governs your injury. Thus, your entitlement and responsibilities may be different, if you were, for example injured in 1992 than if you were injured in 2002.
Workers' compensation in Minnesota is governed by the Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI), the Office of Adminstrative Hearings (OAH), and the Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA). You can obtain additional information about workers' compensation by contacting them at:
If you are denied benefits for any reason, or the claims representative closes his file, please contact Jack Baehman to evaluate your claim, and pursue the benefits you deserve. During your free consultation, we can explain your benefits in more detail, and answer any questions you have. If we represent you, you will not have to pay any out-of-pocket attorney fees. You only pay attorney fees if we win your case, and then they are paid on a contingency (percentage) basis or we make an hourly claim against the insurance company. Please contact us today.
Jackson S. Baehman Law Office, Attorneys at Law
539 Bielenberg Drive
Woodbury, MN 55125