What Is Workers' Compensation?
Workers’ compensation, also known as workers’ comp, is insurance that benefits employees who have suffered work-related injuries or illnesses. In Minnesota, workers’ compensation is mandatory for most employers and covers the following expenses for injured workers:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Permanent Damage to the body
The program is designed to protect employees and employers by providing a “no-fault” system in which injured workers receive benefits regardless of who was at fault for the injury. If you have been injured on the job in Minnesota, it is essential to understand your rights under the state’s workers’ compensation laws.
Who Is Eligible to Receive Benefits?
To be eligible for workers’ compensation in Minnesota, you must:
- Be classified as an employee (full or part time)
- Sustain your injury/illness while performing job-related duties.
- Your work-related injury or illness must have caused you to miss work or seek medical treatment
Are Contractors Covered?
Independent contractors and self-employed individuals are typically not covered for this benefit program, unless those individuals carry a workers’ compensation insurance policy covering themselves.
Who Pays for My Health Insurance If I'm on Workers' Compensation?
Each individual situation is different with respect to ongoing health care coverage through an employer when the employee is receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
Health insurance coverage via an employer is governed by a different set of laws outside of the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act. Therefore, it is not included in claims for workers’ compensation benefits.
Your Next Steps
- We strongly recommend discussing ongoing health care coverage with your human resources representative as soon as it is determined that you will be out of work.
- If you usually contribute to your health insurance premium through payroll deduction, you must discuss with your employer how these contributions will be handled while on leave.
Coverage issues can arise when the employer continues contributing but the injured worker does not while on leave. Therefore, you must discuss this with your employer at the start of the claim to find out how to keep your health insurance current. We recommend you keep a record of all communications with your employer related to this issue.
What Is an IME and Is It Required?
Minnesota workers’ compensation law requires injured workers to attend an independent medical examination (IME) or independent psychological evaluation (IPE) if requested by the employer and at reasonable times thereafter upon the employer’s request.
The examination must generally be scheduled at a location within 150 miles of the injured worker’s home address. The employer is required to pay reasonable travel expenses incurred by the employee in attending the IME or IPE including:
- Lodging and meals, if applicable
Failure to attend a scheduled IME or IPE could result in a discontinuance of ongoing workers’ compensation benefits.
How Long Can a Workers’ Comp Claim Stay Open in Minnesota?
If an employer and insurer have admitted a work injury and paid at least some benefits (e.g., wage loss, medical, or rehabilitation) for that work injury, the claim for the specific date of injury can potentially stay open indefinitely.
We regularly handle the issues that come up over the life of a claim, even if the injury happened quite some time ago and was admitted by the insurer with benefits remaining open.
If your claim was denied and/or no benefits were paid after the initial injury:
- You have 3 years to bring a claim if a First Report of Injury (FROI) was filed.
- You have 6 years if no First Report of Injury (FROI) was filed.
If you don’t know whether a FROI was filed or need help evaluating any claims you might be able to bring against the workers’ compensation insurer, contact us today.
How Long Do Workers' Comp Settlements Take?
Once a Minnesota workers’ compensation claim is settled, the settlement funds are not issued immediately.
There is a strict process that is followed when settlements are completed. On average, the process takes 45 days from the time the case is settled until the stipulation for settlement (i.e., settlement paperwork) gets in front of a judge for review.
Can The Insurer Discontinue My Wage Loss Benefits?
Minnesota law allows employers and insurers to discontinue ongoing wage loss benefits if they believe they have a “reasonable basis” to do so. In order to discontinue wage loss benefits, the employer and insurer must file a Notice of Intention to Discontinue Workers’ Compensation Benefits (NOID) and serve it on the employee and the employee’s attorney (if there is one).
- If an insurer stops paying you benefits without filing this form, it is considered an improper discontinuance and subject to penalties.
- If an employee disagrees with the reason for discontinuance, he or she has 12 calendar days to request an administrative conference.
During the administrative conference, a judge will hear the arguments of all parties and decide whether benefits should be discontinued or reinstated.
It is strongly recommended that you retain an attorney at this point in the claim as it almost always leads to additional litigation and failure to follow proper legal procedure can have a permanent effect on an injured worker’s wage loss benefits.
What Happens If My Medical Benefits Are Denied or Not Paid?
If the workers’ compensation insurer has denied all or some medical benefits, it is essential that you contact one of our workers’ compensation attorneys.
As claims move forward, it is not unusual for insurers to start denying medical benefits such as:
- Chiropractic care
- Physical therapy
- Imaging studies (MRIs, CT scans, ultrasounds)
- Pain clinics
Do I Need an Attorney If Workers’ Compensation Is Voluntarily Paying My Benefits?
Even if a workers’ compensation insurer is voluntarily paying your wage loss and medical benefits, it is still a good idea to consult with an attorney to ensure you are getting all of the benefits to which you are entitled.
- We can ensure that your benefits are being paid correctly and assist you in navigating a complicated system.
- In addition, for permanent injuries, it is very typical for a dispute to arise at some point during your claim.
Therefore, having a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney on your case at the beginning will help you avoid mistakes and protect your claims moving forward. It will also mean that we will be prepared to immediately act on your behalf, if and when a dispute occurs.
Are Psychological Injuries Covered By Workers’ Compensation?
Historically, the answer in Minnesota has been no. In order for a mental injury to be covered by Minnesota workers’ compensation, it would have to be tied to or caused by a physical injury. For example, if someone developed depression as a result of a compensable back injury, the depression could be covered.
- As of October 1, 2013, Minnesota recognized posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a compensable injury. No other mental health conditions are covered.
This means while diagnoses such as depression or anxiety may be debilitating and caused by your work, in Minnesota, employers do not have to pay workers’ compensation benefits for these conditions.
- For PTSD injuries occurring on or after January 1, 2019, first responders diagnosed with PTSD are entitled to a legal presumption, in recognition of the dangerous job duties they perform on a daily basis.
The laws regarding PTSD claims are constantly evolving and changing, and therefore these claims are complicated.
Why Hire a Workers' Compensation Attorney?
The workers’ compensation attorneys at Meshbesher & Spence are experienced in handling Minnesota workers’ compensation claims.
Appealing unfairly denied claims and receiving full and fair benefits can be a difficult process to go through for people unfamiliar with the claims system. Our attorneys will walk you through you claim with expertise and confidence. We know what to do when insurance companies use tactics to try and avoid paying benefits or limit payouts to injured workers.
Employers and insurers may discourage you from retaining an attorney. However, they do not have your best interests in mind.