What to Do if You’ve Been Injured on the Job
Whether you were injured while operating heavy equipment, took a fall, or have developed a bad case of tennis elbow from years of construction work, Minnesota law provides for workman’s compensation to help you cover the costs. It’s important to seek the benefits you’re entitled to; they can make the difference between financial distress and a comfortable recovery. Here’s what you need to know about workman’s comp in Minnesota — and how to file a claim if you’ve been injured.
5. You Can Claim Benefits for Disability, Rehabilitation, and/or Loss of Wages
Many people assume that you can only seek coverage for the immediate medical expenses that result from a workplace injury. In Minnesota, this is just the tip of the iceberg. You can seek compensation for both short- and long-term disabilities and any medical costs they incur. This includes rehabilitation to help you get back to work, and workman’s comp will pay for it if your claim is approved.
If your injury has prevented you from working, whether due to required recovery time or a lasting disability, workman’s compensation can also provide you with benefits to make up for lost income. You may receive short-term compensation if you were out of work while in the hospital, for example, or wage-loss benefits that are meant to replace your income while you recover. Note that if you qualify for disability benefits, that may impact your workman’s comp benefits, and vice versa.
4. You Can Seek Workman’s Comp for Occupational Diseases and Repetitive Stress Injuries
Under Minnesota law, you are entitled to benefits if you develop a disease due to your work conditions. This includes cancer, respiratory illness, or blood disease caused by asbestos or harmful chemicals, as well as any severe illness that results from exposure to pathogens.
If you’ve developed a chronic condition such as carpal tunnel syndrome, you need to report when the symptoms become clear and consistent to the point that it affects your life, or when a doctor diagnoses it — whichever happens sooner. In general, the more you can document the onset of your condition and how it affects your life, the better.
Sometimes, an employer or insurer may try to claim that the condition existed before your current job. Keep your physician close at hand with evidence of when the injury occurred. Note that even if you’ve been doing the same type of work for years, your last employer may be held liable if you developed a repetitive stress injury at their workplace.
3. Your Psychological Treatment Can Be Covered As Well
In Minnesota, anyone injured on the job can receive compensation for more than the basic physician costs. If your injury warrants psychological, chiropractic, or surgical treatment, your benefits may pay for those as well.
Be sure that your condition is fully documented by your healthcare provider. Under Minnesota law, once you treat a workplace injury at least two times with the same doctor, that person becomes your “treating physician.” You must continue to use that physician to manage your treatment plan.
In some cases, you may be required to receive an additional exam by a neutral physician. This is called an independent medical examination (IME), and it is simply a way to assess your full medical needs and provide guidance for any settlement. This includes all rehabilitation, psychological or psychiatric treatment, medication, and any required surgeries, implants, or prostheses.
2. If You Don’t Report the Injury, You Can’t File a Claim
With rare exception, you can’t successfully file a workman’s compensation claim if you did not inform your employer of the injury. It’s very important to have on record that you notified your employer. Even if the employer denies any liability, your lawyer and case manager will want to know that you alerted the employer with as much detail as possible. This shows that you gave your employer the opportunity to respond and resolve the issue.
You typically have 30 days from the date of the injury to report. For traumatic injuries, you should not wait long at all. Immediately alert your employer that you are seeking medical attention. If you slip or fall at work but don’t experience pain until a few days later, you can still alert your employer.
Don’t “wait and see” when it comes to workplace injuries. Even a bump on the head can be very serious, so don’t be afraid to get yourself checked out. Conditions such as concessions, bacterial infections, and tendonitis can sneak up on you and cause severe health issues down the line.
It’s very important to get medical documentation of the injury and its effects soon after the injury happens. Otherwise, it’s easy for employers or insurers to claim that the injury happened while you were off work — and you may require additional treatment if the condition worsens while you wait.
1. Employers Are Not Permitted to Retaliate
Many workers are afraid to file a claim because they fear their employer will fire them or otherwise retaliate against them. Under Minnesota law, it is illegal to retaliate against a worker who files for benefits. You should report your injury as soon as possible, then file the claim shortly thereafter.
If you do experience retaliation, document everything. Continue with your claim and present the facts to the facilitator assigned to your case. You definitely need legal representation who can advocate for you. If handled right, you can get your job back and/or receive compensation for loss of wages.
Filing a workman’s compensation claim may be daunting, but Minnesota provides a broad set of protections for workers. Always report and document your workplace injuries, then seek legal representation to help you navigate the claims process. The more details you have, the better. And remember, the sooner you start the process, the sooner you can recover and get back to a normal life.
For expertise in workman’s compensation law and to connect with compassionate legal counsel in Minnesota, reach out to Sundquist Law Firm if you have been injured on the job. We’re happy to help you fill out forms, prepare your evidence, and make your claim. Don’t delay: if you’ve had a workplace injury, see your doctor, alert your employer, then give us a call.