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Employees Eligible for Work Comp Benefits

There are two fundamental requirements for workman’s compensation eligibility. You must have a workplace injury and be an eligible employee.

(1) You Must Be Injured

The first requirement is quite obvious: you must have a workplace injury. This requirement sounds deceptively simple. Most people assume one of the following:

  • “I was injured on work property, and therefore, I have a workplace injury”
  • “I wasn’t on work property when I was injured, so I do not have a workplace injury”

Don’t be so quick to judge your situation.

Under Minnesota workers’ compensation law, a workplace injury does not always mean that the injury happened at your employer’s property or primary place of business. It may occur off-premise. The opposite is also true. Sometimes an injury that occurred at your workplace is not a compensable injury (a “compensable injury” means an injury that is covered under workman’s comp).

However, if you are an injured worker and the injury occurred while on the clock or at your workplace, that is a good indicator that you need to report your injury to your employer and file for workers’ compensation benefits. The worst mistake you can make is assuming that your injury is not covered, and then be stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills for an injury that workman’s compensation should have covered.

If your employer or its insurer tells you that you don’t have a workplace injury, a compensability injury, or they simply deny your claim, get in touch with a workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Remember, the worker’s compensation insurer is trying NOT to pay you.

(2) You Generally Must Have an Employee-Employer Relationship

The second requirement also seems deceptively simple. You usually must be in an employer-employee relationship. This means that if you are a volunteer, independent contractor, etc. that you may not be eligible for benefits.

However, don’t be too quick to judge here either. To determine whether you are eligible for workers’ compensation, you need to look beyond the labels your employer gives you.

A great example of how labels don’t necessarily make or break your case are the recent rulings relating to Uber. You may remember that earlier this summer, it was headline news that California’s labor commission decided that Uber drivers are employees. Uber considered its drivers to be independent contractors, but the commission looked past the label the company gave the drivers and looked at what the day-to-day job really looked like.

The Uber decision was not a workers’ compensation case, but the legal evaluation of whether there is an employer-employee relationship is similar. Simply put, do not be led to believe you are not eligible for Minnesota workers’ compensation simply because your employer or its insurer says you are not covered.

Taking Action: What Should You Do Now?

When it comes to workman’s compensation, your employer and its insurer are not on your side. Even the best of employers will work hard to keep costs down, and we all know that insurance companies will fight tooth and nail to avoid paying claims.

Your health is too important to let your employer and its insurer make decisions for you. Take these next steps to help protect yourself:

  1. Report your workplace injuries to your employer as soon as possible.
  2. Don’t wait to seek medical attention. Take care of yourself!
  3. Get informed about your rights. Our Basics Series is aimed at giving you a quick overview of workman’s compensation. You may want to start there.
  4. Determine if you need a worker’s compensation attorney. After a workplace injury, it is never too early to get a free consultation with a workers’ compensation attorney. Even if your claim has not been denied, having a lawyer can keep things moving quickly and keeps the insurer on their toes. Many employees find that the insurance company tries to jerk them around. A workman’s compensation lawyer can address these issues.

Minneapolis Work Comp Lawyer

If you are interested in obtaining a workmans’ compensation lawyer, many offer free consultations. At Heimerl & Lammers, we have an experienced team of workers’ compensation lawyers ready to discuss your case during our free consultations. You can reach us at 612-294-2200 to schedule one. Let us fight for your rights!

Work Comp Benefits

How Long Can You Receive Work Comp Benefits?

There are multiple types of benefits you can receive under Minnesota Workers’ Compensation. How long you may be able to receive benefits depends on the type of benefits you are seeking.

When my clients ask how long they will receive benefits, they are most commonly referring to wage loss benefits. These are the benefits that help cover wage losses due to your work injury. Reasons you may have wage losses can include time you are completely off work or only working a portion of your regular hours. You could also qualify for wage loss benefits if you are working a lower paying position due to your work injury.

Minnesota’s workman’s comp does not provide indefinite wage loss benefits. Injured workers can only receive benefits for a limited amount of time. The exact duration depends on the type of wage loss you have.

Temporary Total Disability (TTD)

Temporary total disability (TTD) are available when you are totally unable to work because of your work injury. Usually, your doctor will tell you not to work for a specific period of time. Temporary total disability benefits may also apply if your doctor has given you light duty restrictions, but your employer will not allow you to come back to work until you are fully healed.

For injuries sustained after 2008, you may receive up to 130 weeks of temporary total disability unless you have a retraining plan. Whether you are an injured worker entitled to the maximum amount of TTD depends on the specific facts of your case.

Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)

Temporary partial disability (TPD) are wage loss benefits that apply when you are making some wages but you are making less than you were before your injury. This could occur because your workplace injury is causing you to work fewer hours than you were pre-injury or because you are earning less per hour.

If you have a wage loss immediately after your injuries and if your injury occurred after 1992, you may be eligible for up to 225 weeks of temporary partial benefits. Just like with TTD benefits though, whether you will receive the maximum amount of benefits depends on your specific situation.

Permanent Total Disability (PTD)

Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits are available to injured workers who can never return to gainful employment. Because injured workers receiving PTD by definition can never return to gainful employment, the maximum duration of benefits works differently than with other workman’s compensation wage loss benefits.

Permanent total disability benefits are presumed to end at the time you reach 67 years old. This is because Minnesota workers’ compensation laws presume that you will retire at 67 and, therefore, you have no more wage loss. However, this is only a presumption. A good lawyer may be able to extend the duration of your benefits past age 67.

Am I Automatically Entitled to the Maximum Benefit?

In short, no. Injured workers are not automatically entitled to the maximum amount of wage loss benefits.

For example, an employee may be injured at work and make a complete recovery within 6 weeks. The employee also returns to work without any restrictions and earns the same wages as he or she did before the injury. This would not automatically entitle him or her to 130 weeks of TTD or 225 weeks of TPD because there was no more wage loss after 6 weeks.

Your benefits may be “cut off” for multiple reasons before you reach the maximum allowance for any of the following reasons:

  • The injured worker returns to work at pre-injury wages
  • The employee’s doctor removes all restrictions,
  • The employee reaches maximum medical improvement

However, even a circumstance that looks cut and dry may have unique facts that mean an injured employee is entitled to more benefits than what the workers’ compensation insurance company is claiming.

What Can Workers’ Compensation Do For Me?

All of these benefits may be available to you depending on your injury and circumstances. Remember that this is just a general overview, so there are additional benefits and restrictions to these benefits that we have not discussed in this article.

If this overview has brought concerns to your attention about your workers’ compensation claim or you believe you are not receiving the workers comp benefits you should be receiving, we encourage you to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Our Minneapolis attorneys have extensive experience in handling workman’s compensation claims and are available to discuss your case. To speak with an attorney on the workers’ compensation team at Heimerl & Lammers, contact us at 612.294.2200.