Construction workers serve critical roles in our society, building essential infrastructure that delivers services to our communities, shelters our families, and develops our towns and cities. However, men and women in construction face innumerable risks and safety hazards that differ at every site they work and, at times, they are injured on the job.
In Minnesota, construction accounts for one of the highest number of workplace injuries and illnesses of all its industry groups. Perhaps you are one of the men and women who have suffered an occupational injury in this state. Perhaps you, like thousands of others, are now daunted by the process of not only receiving the appropriate medical care but also applying for workers’ comp and securing your job while you recover. Perhaps you think your union might be able to help.
Your union will be a powerful ally to advocate for your care and rights as well as improved safety protocols, protective gear, and training to avoid conditions that caused your injury in the first place. Still, they may not be your first point of contact in this situation.
Since 1997, Minnesota has offered a viable alternative to its standard worker’s compensation system, one that exclusively settles claims and disputes submitted from the unionized construction industry: The Union Construction Workers’ Compensation Program (UCWCP).
Because the UCWCP avoids state protocols (not to mention any related fees and delays) and is tailored for unionized construction workers, it can work more affordably and rapidly to help its members get resources such as:
- Top-tier medical treatment and rehabilitation.
- Accurate information on workers’ comp.
- Dispute resolution services.
- Medical payments and wage loss benefits.
- Safe and timely returns to the workplace.
To be covered under the UCWCP, both your employer and your union must be members of the program. Otherwise, you must pursue workers’ comp through the state’s administration system, with which an experienced workers’ comp or work-injury attorney can help.
If you are covered by the UCWCP and have been injured, here are the first steps you’ll need to take to begin filing a claim:
- Report the injury to your employer: To get the ball rolling on any worker’s comp claim, your employer must complete a First Report of Injury (FROI) form. So that all the details they report are truthful and comprehensive, be sure to provide your employer with as many details as possible about how, why, and where you were injured.
- Obtain medical care, if necessary, from a clinic or practitioner within the UCWCP’s Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) medical network: Keep in mind that, when working with the UCWCP, you can only see doctors approved by the program’s EPO. This is one of the ways in which the UCWCP secures high-quality medical treatment for unionized workers. Some employers designate a UCWCP EPO clinic for work-injury care, so you can ask for a referral.
- Work with an attorney to prepare for different levels of escalation with your workers’ comp: The UCWCP escalates unresolved claims in the following order. Disputes can be resolved at any stage but it’s important that, at whatever stage, you receive the benefits you are entitled to by diligently and accurately asserting your rights.
- Intervention: If you need to get answers or raise concerns about your workers’ comp claim, you can receive help from a designated dispute resolution facilitator. You and the facilitator can likely work together to resolve conflicts at this stage.
- Facilitation: This is an informal meeting of all involved parties aimed at formally resolving While still one of the initial stages, your interests might be better represented with support from a seasoned attorney.
- Mediation: This voluntary and requested meeting seeks to settle disputes with the help of a third-party mediator. Legal counsel is recommended at this stage.
- Arbitration: The end of the line! This formal dispute resolution process that’s equivalent to an administrative hearing in that the arbitrator has the power to render decisions with the same authority as that of a judge at the Office of Administrative Hearings. Attorneys are required for all parties involved.
As great and effective as it is, the UCWCP is still a workers’ comp claim administration program much like any other—it consists of intricate protocols, processes, and occasional disappointments that can be difficult to navigate on your own, especially when you’re dealing with your injury and the financial responsibilities that begin to mount with each passing day you aren’t able to return to work.
That’s where Sundquist Law Firm comes in: Attorney Russel Sundquist, a 30-year veteran in union representation, will walk you through every step of the disputing process, including facilitation, mediation, arbitration, or any other necessary steps, making certain that you have the legal basis to firmly stand your ground.
If you’ve been injured and want peace of mind in receiving your workers’ compensation, contact Sundquist Law Firm today and let us fight for you.