If you are injured at work in Minnesota you are legally entitled to certain benefits. The most common work injuries are acute, often resulting from accidents or acts of exertion. Here are 5 of the most common acute work-related injuries.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
This is a very common injury in office jobs. Carpal Tunnel results from repetitive hand motion, such as typing on a computer. Years of this activity can lead to pain and numbness, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks. With so many jobs requiring employees to be at their computers for hours every day, this injury is all too real. Make sure you get the compensation you are owed.
Broken bones are most common among construction workers, but can occur in other work environments as well. From simple fractures, to crushing injuries, broken bones can lead to infection or disability if not treated quickly and effectively.
Neck injuries are painful, long lasting, and can result from nearly any activity. These injuries often necessitate long and costly medical attention and rehabilitation. These medical bills add up quick, making it doubly important that you get the compensation you deserve.
Heavy lifting using your back instead of your legs is an easy way to seriously injure your back. While back injuries are most prevalent in manual labor jobs, they can also happen in office jobs from something as simple as lifting a box of printer paper.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Brain injuries can happen in any job, but are most common in construction, where ladders and scaffolding accidents are far too common. Traumatic brain injuries can also result from car accidents. This can be covered under workers’ compensation if the injured person was driving somewhere for work.
The short answer to the question “can I sue my employer” is no.
In Minnesota, if a person is injured on the job, their exclusive remedy is the workers compensation system. In other words, you can file a work comp claim, but you cannot bring a civil suit against your employer for any negligence on their part. There may, however, be other people you can bring a claim against, if the negligence of a third party (who is not your employer) contributed to your injuries. For example, if you slipped in a puddle of oil at work walking into the building, and the building is owned and maintained by someone other than your employer, you may be able to bring a claim against the owner of that building for negligence.
You may also be able to bring a claim if it is determined that you are not an employee of the company. For example, if you are an independent contractor. These types of claims do require you to prove that the other party was negligent, which is sometimes difficult. Just because an accident occurred does not necessarily mean that someone was legally negligent. Minnesota workers compensation does not require you to prove negligence.
Too often injured workers are unable to move forward because they are fixated on fault and blame. The reality is that fault is not often discussed in the workers compensation setting. This may not be fair, but it is the reality of the situation and cannot be changed. A successful outcome is more likely to be reached if you can focus on the things within your control.
The Minnesota workers’ compensation system is quite complex, and requires a lot of paperwork from both the employer and employee. Here are a few quick tips to get you through the process:
Keep your employer informed about your condition at all times.
Keep receipts for anything you pay for out of your own pocket (i.e. prescriptions). Even better, make copies of your receipts just in case you lose them.
Make sure that your doctor is in contact with the insurance company and that all the necessary paperwork is being sent to the insurance carrier.
Document your mileage going to and from doctor appointments
Many Minnesota employers require employees to complete work comp sheets for every type of injury sustained on the job no matter how small. It may seem pointless to document very minor injuries, but minor injuries can lead to more severe injuries down the line. Because of this, it’s important to document any workplace injury right after it occurs.
If you have any questions about your workplace injury or work comp claim, don’t hesitate to contact a work comp lawyer to discuss your case.
The first thing you should know is that the doctor performing the exam is paid by the insurance company. This means that the insurance company and the employer are looking for reasons to discontinue your workers’ compensation benefits in whole or part. There is no doctor-patient relationship established, which means nothing is confidential. The sole purpose of this exam is for the employer and the insurance company to receive an expert opinion regarding the nature, cause, and extent of the injuries.
You should note how the exam was conducted, such as where the doctor touched you, if the doctor made you lift your legs or touch your toes, or if the injured area was rotated. How long the exam took is also an important detail.
The doctor’s opinion is going to have an impact on your benefits. For instance, the doctor may state that your injury was not work-related. This can give the insurance company a reason to discontinue benefits. The doctor may also find that you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), which means you won’t get any better than you are now. This means any temporary benefits can be discontinued. If the doctor states that the treatment you received in the past was not necessary, the insurance company may try to deny payment of your medical bills.
Most people get upset when they get the results of the exam. This is an understandable reaction, but remember that this is only one person’s opinion and you don’t have to follow it.
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.