It is always beneficial to hire a workers’ comp attorney if you are injured at work and plan to file a claim. But many are hesitant to do so because of the cost of hiring an attorney.
In general, workers compensation attorney’s fees are done on a contingent basis. In other words, you don’t have to pay an attorney any upfront costs. Under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act, your attorney is not entitled to any fees unless they successfully settle a dispute. Even when an attorney resolves a claim and wins benefits, there are still limitations on what an attorney can be awarded. The following are a few examples of these limitations:
For wage (indemnity) benefits, attorney fees are limited by statute. Fees are 25% of the first $4,000, and 20% of the next $60,000 obtained.
For medical benefits, attorney fees are paid solely by the insurance company. The injured worker does not lose any benefits (including money) if the attorney wins medical benefits in the dispute.
For rehabilitation benefits, attorney fees are also only paid by the insurance company. Similarly, the injured worker does not lose any benefits or money if the lawyer wins rehabilitation benefits.
Approaching a workers’ comp dispute can be overwhelming. An attorney can help guide you through the process. And rest assured you won’t need to worry about paying out of pocket when retaining a workers’ compensation attorney.
One of the first questions you must consider in your workers’ compensation case is whether you are an employee or an independent contractor. In Minnesota, this distinction is very important. One of the most fundamental requirements of workman’s compensation is that the worker is in an employee-employer relationship. Usually, this means that the worker is in an at-will employee who can be fired or quit without legal repercussions. With an independent contractor, the worker does not have an employee-employer relationship. Instead, the relationship is often based on a contract and the independent contractor can face a lawsuit if he does not complete his end of the bargain. Because there is no employee-employer relationship, an independent contractors falls into the portion of Minnesota workers who are not entitled to workman’s compensation benefits.
However, it is important to understand that whether you are an employee or independent contractor may not be as clear cut as your employer wants you to believe. Even if your employer calls you an “independent contractor,” the court has the power to decide that in reality you were an employee. This is possible because the court examines the actual conduct of the parties, not arbitrary titles. Generally, when deciding whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor, the court will look at the actual conduct of the parties in the following five categories:
Characteristics of Employee
Characteristics of Independent Contractor
Control Does your employer control the means and manner of your work? Are you required to follow instructions about when, where, and how you will do your work?
An employee must follow the employer’s instruction regarding when, where, and how the work must be completed. The employee may have some input and may even decide when, where, and how, but he/she must ultimately comply with the employer if it prefers an alternative means or method.
An independent contract usually has far more flexibility than an employee. The independent contractor often controls when the work will be done, where it will be done, and how he/she will get the project completed.
Payment Who determines the value of your services? Are you paid on a regular schedule? Are taxes and deductions taken from your check?
An employee usually does not determine the value of their service. Their paychecks come at regular intervals, such as bi-weekly, and taxes and deductions are already removed. Employees also do not bare the risk of the business, nor does he/she get profits.
An independent contractor often negotiates the value of their work with the employer and receives payment without taxes or deductions taken out. Payments usually occur as negotiated. The independent contractor takes on the risk of the job, and therefore, also stands to gain profits if it is successfully completed.
Tools and Materials Are you required to supply your own tools and materials, such as cars or equipment?
An employee is usually not required to supply anything for their employment. A mode of transportation to get to/from work is not a required tool unless your employer requires you to travel during the day in your own vehicle.
An independent contractor will likely supply his/her own tools and is responsible to replace them when broken.
Premises Does your employer control the premises where the work is performed?
An employee has very little to no control over the premises where the services are performed.
An independent contractor generally has his/her own place of business and controls the premises.
Discharge Can your employer sue you for breach of contract if you terminate the relationship? Is your employment at-will?
An employee can usually be fired at-will. Both the employee and employer often have the right to terminate employment without incurring legal liability.
An independent contractor and employer have usually negotiated an agreement that creates legal liability if either terminates the relationship early or the work is not performed.
After you suffer a work injury in Minnesota and have
notified your employer, what do you do next?
If you’re like most injured workers, you seek appropriate
medical treatment, whether it’s emergency care, diagnostic treatment, or just
follow-up care. Those medical bills should then be submitted to your employer’s
Workers’ Compensation Insurance Carrier.
But who is that?
Work Comp Insurers
Most often, your employer will provide you with that
information, either at the time you inform your employer of your injury, or
But what if your employer can’t (or won’t) give you that
information? Sometimes it isn’t easy to get the insurance information from your
employer, for various reasons: Maybe your supervisor doesn’t know who the work
comp insurer is, or maybe the person who knows isn’t available. It’s also
possible your employer is withholding the information on purpose. If that is
the case, you might be able to make a claim against them for illegal conduct.
In the meantime, you still need to get medical treatment, and you can’t afford
to wait. So what can you do?
Department of Labor and Industry
The answer lies with the Department of Labor and Industry
(DOLI). If you have access to the internet (which, if you’re reading this blog
post, you likely do), you can search to identify the workers’ compensation
insurers for Minnesota employers at the DOLI search engine site.
All you need is some basic information, such as the date
range for your inquiry, and information about the employer’s name and address.
However, if you are still unable to find the insurer after using DOLI’s above
search site, you can place a request directly at the inquiry page, and will
likely receive an e-mail response from a DOLI employee within hours.
If you do not have regular access to the internet, you can
always call DOLI directly to ask, by calling (651) 284-5005.
Don’t get left in the dark by your employer. Find out who
your workers’ compensation insurer actually is. And be aware that if you run
into difficulties, an experienced work comp attorney can help you get the
benefits you deserve.
There were just underthree million non-fatal workplace injuries in 2016 alone. This number has significantly decreased from the five million plus people injured in 2003. Yet, it is still far too many casualties. If you’re one of the millions of people who have been injured at work, there are a number of things you need to know about the statute of limitations on a work injury in Minnesota.
Many of these revolve around workers’ compensation and the benefits of hiring aworkers’ comp attorney in Minnesota. Some, though, are about the type of medical care you’re entitled to receive, the type of injury you sustained, and more.
Keep reading for a detailed list of three must-know facts about the Minnesota statute of limitations on work injuries. Don’t hesitate to contact us today if you’ve been hurt at work. We work on a contingency basis, which means you don’t pay a cent unless we get you a settlement. Call 612.465.8733 now to learn more!
What is the Statute of Limitations in Minnesota?
The statute of limitations on a work injury in Minnesota varies. If your employer filed something called aFirst Report of Injury, then you have three years from the date of injury listed on the report. It’s important to point out that your employer must file this report with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, not with their insurer. If your employer didn’t file this report, you have six years from the date of your injury.
This is longer than many people think. Most workers, especially workers involved inconstruction accidents, believe that you must file a workers’ compensation claim immediately or risk losing the ability to get benefits. This isn’t the case.
Besides the statute of limitations on work injuries in Minnesota, there are other factors to consider. Take, for instance, the issue of notice. It’s important you notify your employer right away of any injuries due to potential defenses they may bring.
For these reasons, it’s a good idea to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to get information specific to your situation. If your employer is trying to bully you, or telling you that you have less than three or six years, it’s absolutely necessary to contact an attorney.
The Type of Claim Impacts the Time
While the statute of limitations on a work injury in Minnesota is either three or six years, the type of claim you file does impact this time. Workers’ compensation claims and personal injury suits have different times because, though the two are related, they are different types of law and seek settlements from different entities.
Personal injury cases have a statute of limitations oftwo years, which is much shorter than workers’ compensation claims. That being said, different types of personal injury suits also have different statutes of limitations. Medical malpractice, for example, has a four-year timeframe, while wrongful death has a three-year statute.
These differences, and all the confusion they’re bound to cause, highlight the need for apersonal injury attorney.
When Did You Discover the Injury?
Another factor that determines the statute of limitations on a work injury in Minnesota is when you discovered that you were hurt. Your three or six-year timeframe begins from the date of your work injury or the date listed on the First Report of Injury. What if your injury isn’t immediately apparent, though?
This is often the case for repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel. These don’t announce themselves like falling from a roof. This type of subtler injury brings therule of reasonableness into the picture. This is the idea that the statute of limitations on a work injury in Minnesota begins from when you reasonably should have known you were injured and that injury was work-related.
This last point, realizing your injury is work related, is vitally important. Repetitive stress injuries can be hard to pinpoint the cause of. You may think a twisted ankle occurred at work, when it really occurred while you were at the park. The work-related distinction is just one reason that while the rule of reasonableness works on paper, it is often much harder to put into practice in real life. This is another reason that finding the most experienced workers’ compensation attorney you can is a smart move. In fact, when dealing with subtler injuries, retaining expert legal help isn’t just smart – it’s vital.
Call 612 Injured for Legal Help
Contact us today to learn how we can help. Remember, your consultation is always free, and we won’t charge you unless we can reach a settlement or win in court.Call 612.465.8733 now to be connected to Minnesota’s premier workers’ comp attorneys!