Frequently Asked Questions

Minneapolis Workers Compensation FAQ

AM I ELIGIBLE FOR WORKERS' COMPENSATION BENEFITS? If you have been injured at your job and the injury is work related, then you should receive workers' compensation benefits.

WHAT STEPS SHOULD I TAKE IF I AM INJURED AT WORK? If you are injured at work, you should follow the following steps: • Report your injury to your supervisor immediately • Seek treatment for your injury as soon as possible. • Have your doctor provide written work restrictions if necessary. Submit these work restrictions to your employer. • Document all medical expenses incurred for treatment of your work injury. • Keep your employer informed of your continued inability to work. Contact David Bialke to assist you in handling your claim. •

WHAT BENEFITS ARE AVAILABLE? If you have been injured at work and have been approved for workers' compensation, you will generally receive the following benefits: • Payment of the medical expenses for your medical care (including emergency treatment, follow-up care, physical therapy, etc.); • Payment of expenses incurred for travel to and from doctor's offices, physical therapy appointments, etc.; • Payment of a percentage of your earnings (typically 66% of your average week wage) for the period of your disability; • Payment of a lump sum or weekly benefit amount in the event your injury results in a permanent physical impairment, or in the event you are permanently disabled from working in any capacity; and Payment of benefits in the event of death. •

WHEN DO BENEFITS BECOME AVAILABLE? Disability begins on the first day you are unable to work. However, wage loss payments are not paid for the first three days after your disability begins. In the event you are unable to work, even if intermittently, for ten days or more, you will be paid wage loss benefits from the first day of your disability. An insurer is required to begin paying wage loss benefits within 14 days from the time that your employer is notified of your work injury. You will receive your benefits at the same intervals as you received your regular paychecks.

DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY? HOW DO I PAY FOR ONE? Employers and insurance companies are looking out for their own best interests. They want to close a claim as quickly as possible and to pay as little as possible. Therefore, they may encourage you not to hire a lawyer. Workers compensation laws were created to protect the rights of an injured worker. However, the system is full of complexities, specifications and time limits. If not followed carefully, you may lose benefits available to you. An experienced workers' compensation attorney will help protect your rights and assist you in getting the compensation to which you are entitled. You may be worried about how you will pay for an attorney, especially when you are not working. There is no fee to retain our services. State laws provide limits on attorney's fees in workers' compensation cases. We are compensated on a contingent fee basis, and we receive payment after workers' compensation benefits are awarded to you. Contact our offices attorneys for a free, confidential consultation about your workers' compensation rights and benefits.

WHAT OBSTACLES ARE THERE WHEN COLLECTING MY WORKERS' COMPENSATION BENEFITS? Most workers' compensation claims are paid without any problems. However, if any of the following situations arise, you should consider retaining a workers' compensation attorney: • Your employer contests or rejects your claim. Many employers reject claims hoping that the employee will choose not to pursue the matter further. You are entitled to compensation. • If you lose your job for whatever reason, as work comp wage loss benefits and vocational rehab assistance may be available to you. • If your employer offers to compensate you in an amount insufficient to cover the injury or disability you have suffered. Minnesota Workers' Compensation Information The workers' compensation system has developed standards by which to define "disability," either partial or total, temporary or permanent. Each state has its own schedule of benefits for each type of loss. Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) Temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits are paid if, as a result of your injury, you are earning a lower weekly wage than before you were injured. TPD benefits are calculated based on your gross weekly wage at the time of your injury and your current gross weekly earnings. Payment is equal to two-thirds of the difference between what you were earning at the time of your injury and your current wages. Generally, you will be paid TPD benefits until you are released to return to your previous job without a wage loss. Temporary Total Disability (TTD) If you are unable to work due to your injury, you will be paid Temporary Total Disability benefits. Payments are equal to two-thirds of your gross average weekly wage at the time of your injury and are paid at the same intervals as your regular paychecks. TTD benefits generally end when: • you have been paid the maximum number of weeks of benefits (see table below); • you are not participating in an vocational rehabilitation program; • you have returned to your previous job or other suitable employment. For dates of injury from Oct. 1, 2000, through Sept. 30, 2008 Maximum weekly rate $750 Minimum weekly rate $130 (or the actual weekly wage, whichever is less) Maximum number of weeks 104 For dates of injury on or after Oct. 1, 2008 Maximum weekly rate $850 Minimum weekly rate $130 (or the actual weekly wage, whichever is less) Maximum number of weeks 130 Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits are paid to compensate for the permanent functional loss of use of your body. These benefits are based upon a disability schedule (usually called the PPD) Disability (or impairment) ratings are assigned as a percentage of disability to the body as a whole, and there are guidelines required when determining the rating. To determine the benefits that are payable, the total percentage rating is multiplied by a specific dollar amount. Ratings cannot exceed 100 percent of the whole body for any one injury. Permanent partial disability benefits are payable after temporary total (TTD) benefits end, and can be paid concurrently with temporary partial (TPD) and permanent total (PTD) benefits. For example, if the rating it 11 percent, find the 11- to 15-percent range on the table and multiply 11 percent by $85,000. The amount owed is $9,350. Source: Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry. Permanent Total Disability (PTD) If, as the result of your work injury, you are never able to return to gainful employment, you may be eligible for PTD benefits. The amount of the PTD benefit is two-thirds of your gross weekly wage at the time of your injury, payable on a weekly basis for the remainder of your life, or age 67, depending upon the date of injury. Death/dependency benefits The spouse, children and/or other dependents of an employee who dies as the result of a work related injury or illness is eligible for dependency benefits. Additional workers' compensation information is available through the Minnesota Department of Labor.

MEDICAL TREATMENT If you are entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits, all reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to your work injury will be paid, together with costs incurred for prescriptions and mileage reimbursement for trips to your doctor, physical therapy, etc. Under most circumstances, you are entitled to choose your own doctor, to change doctors, or seek a second opinion with regard to treatment of your injuries.

UNDERREPORTED WORK ACCIDENTS Many work accidents go unreported, suppressing the real data. For more information, click here.

VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION If a work injury prevents you from returning to your job, you may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services. Eligibility is based on whether: due to your injury, you are unable to perform your usual and customary job; your employer is unable to provide you with other suitable employment, and; rehabilitation services will be of benefit for you in your search for another job. A vocational rehabilitation plan will be developed by you, your employer-insurer, and a qualified rehabilitation consultant (QRC). These services include: • Modifying job duties to meet with your physical restrictions; • Seeking alternative employment in the event your employer cannot provide you with suitable work; and • Training for a new job

INDEPENDENT MEDICAL EVALUATIONS (IME's)

You may be requested to be examined by an "adverse medical provider." This is a doctor who is hired by the insurance company. The IME doctor is asked by the insurer to determine the cause and extent of your injuries, your physical restrictions, the date when you reached MMI (maximum medical improvement), and the extent of your permanent disability. This adverse examination can have a negative impact on your benefits. It is important to seek the advice of a workers' compensation attorney immediately to insure that you continue to receive the maximum benefits available to you.

Underreporting Work Accidents

A November 16, 2009, report from the Government Accountability Office, the auditing department of the United States Congress, concludes that numerous employers do not report workplace accidents and sickness because they are afraid of increasing their worker's compensation costs and are concerned about their ability to win contracts. The study also reports that many workers do not report job related injuries because they are concerned about being disciplined or that their coworkers will lose rewards for safety based incentive programs.

The Government Accountability Office based this report after examining OSHA's audits from 2005 to 2007. Workplace accidents in OSHA's records documented four million work related accidents in 2007, including 5600 deaths, a number that has steadily decreased since 1992. OSHA attributes the decrease in accidents to improvements in safety standards in the workplace and the reduction of manufacturing jobs in the United States. However, the G.A.O. sites academic studies that OSHA underreports up to two-thirds of all workplace accidents. This discrepancy between the two figures in that OSHA relies entirely on employer reported injuries and illnesses for information.

In response to this report, OSHA stated that they would adopt the G.A.O.'s recommendation that an inspector should interview employees during the auditing procedures to reconcile the accuracy of employer provided injury reports.

An additional part of the G.A.O. report focused on the information from medical professionals treating workers for injuries and illnesses. Many health practitioners reported that employees will seek an alternative diagnosis if the original diagnosis would result in a record of a work related injury or illness. The G.A.O. report also stated that 53 percent of the health practitioners who provided responses stated that they received pressure from company officials to deemphasize the extent of illness or injury. Furthermore, 47 percent of the medical practitioners survey stated that they received similar pressure from workers.