Tag Archives: workplace injury

Injured at Work

The 10 Most Common Workplace Injuries in Minnesota

On-the-job injuries happen in a variety of different ways, but some are more common than others.  Below, we examined the ten most common injuries that lead to a workers’ compensation claim.

  1. Assaults and Violent Acts – This may be more common among police officers in law enforcement, but it can also happen in an office setting. Pranks of office politics can lead to pushing and shoving.
  2. Repetitive motion – Ben Heimerl, a workers’ compensation attorney, said his firm has seen numerous “repetitive activity” injuries.  People tasked with constant bending of movements are prone to repetitive motion injuries.
  3. Machinery Accidents – Accidents involving heavy machinery are common among industrial workers and farmers.  Construction workers are also tasked with dealing with heavy equipment on a daily basis, which exposes them to a greater potential for injury.
  4. Highway Accidents – Although the coming-and-going rule usually absolves a company of liability if a person driving to or from work, employees in the transportation injury suffer traffic accident every day.  Truck and delivery drivers make up a high portion of these work comp claims.
  5. Hitting an Object – This type of injury occurs across all sorts of industries.  These claims occur when a person accidently runs into a hard surface, like a wall, door, table or chair.
  6. Object Strikes Person – In these cases, a moving object strikes a person.  This most commonly occurs when a person drops an object from a higher level and it strikes a co-worker.  These injuries are common in outdoor industries, like construction, roofing, or painting.
  7. Bodily Reaction – Bodily reactions injuries are similar to slips and trips, but the person doesn’t fall to the ground during a bodily reaction accident.  These usually involve a person hurting their back or knees when they catch themselves after they trip or slip.
  8. Falls to a lower level – Falls from a high height oftentimes result in some of the most devastating injuries.  These injuries occur when a person falls down a staircase, off a ladder, or from a roof.  Falls from great heights tend to involved broken bones.
  9. Slips, Trips and Same-Level Falls – Falls from slipping on a wet floor are one of the most common injuries that result in a workers’ compensation claim.  These types of injuries are especially prevalent during the winter months when co-workers drag snow into the building on the bottom of their shoes.
  10. Overexertion – Overexertion leads to more on-the-job injuries than any other ailment, mainly because it has a rather broad definition.  Injuries that occur while pulling, pushing, lifting, moving, carrying or throwing are all classified as overexertion injuries.  These types of injuries are common across all industries.

Injuries come in all shapes and sizes.  It’s not just the construction workers that get injured.  The nursing field, assembly line workers, and individuals in the transportation industry all suffer workplace injuries. We see many injuries caused by job stresses such as repetitive activity, heavy lifting, bending, kneeling, stooping, and crouching.  If your injury was caused by your work activities in any way, it probably falls under workers compensation.

Work Injury Doctor

Does My Employer Get to Choose My Doctor After a Work Injury?

If you have had a workplace injury and your employer sent you to a doctor they chose, it is important that you act quickly to obtain a doctor who is on your side. Your doctor and his or her diagnosis lay the foundation for your workers’ compensation claim.

This means that having the right doctor can be the difference between getting your medical bills and wage loss paid or getting your claim denied.

Such an important decision should not be left up to your employer. Employers will try to protect themselves from workers’ compensation claims to avoid increased insurance premiums. A successful workers’ compensation claim may also draw attention to unsafe work environments, which could result in workplace safety penalties. Ultimately, your employer has many reasons to try to protect the company and will not have your best interest at heart when choosing a doctor.

Know Your Right to Choose

Under Minnesota law, employees have the right to choose their physician if they are not part of a managed care plan. We often see employers that tell their employees that they have to go to their doctor or else they don’t get benefits. This is simply incorrect.

There is nothing more personal and important than your physical health, and your employer should not be given the right to make these very personal decisions. Almost as important as your physical health is your financial health. Most of us cannot afford to get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills and weeks of lost wages. Without the right doctor, both your physical and financial health could be devastated. If your employer is pressuring you to see a doctor they selected, you are will be far better off choosing your own doctor.

However, before you make a change to a new doctor, you must first make sure that changing your primary physician complies with the workers’ compensation rules.

Rules and 60-Day Deadline

Minnesota workers’ compensation requires employees follow the workers’ compensation rules. Under these rules, a doctor becomes your “primary” doctor after you have seen him or her only twice. Once you have established a primary doctor, you must be careful to properly follow the administrative rules when changing doctors.

If you change doctor without following these rules, your employer may no longer have to pay for your medical bills! Here are the basics of what you need to know and additional resources:

Employees can change their primary physician one time within 60 days from starting their medical treatment. However, after 60 days, it is much harder to change physicians, and even impossible in some circumstances. For example, the rules require employees to get employer, insurer, or judge approval to change their physician after 60 days. To learn more about these rules, see Minnesota Administrative Rule 5221.0430.

If your employer or their insurer is pushing you to a doctor or clinic of their choosing, we highly suggest immediately seeking the advice of an attorney for two reasons. First of all, as mentioned, there is a time component involved here and an attorney can assess where you stand and possibly get a doctor change approved even after the deadline. Secondly, in our experience an employer recommended doctor is a major red flag. Employers and work comp insurance companies who try to influence medical care tend to be the kind of companies who will do everything they can to deny you the benefits you have coming to you.  Therefore, it’s better to have someone on your side as early as possible.

Workplace Injury Rehab

Tips for Returning to Work after a Workplace Injury

The number one goal of the workers compensation system is to return the injured worker to the work force, as quickly and as safely as possible. To this end, injured workers are entitled to the assistance of a Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant or QRC’s.

Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant

A benefit often over looked in workers’ compensation is the Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant or QRC. The QRC’s job is to assist individuals with work-related injuries receive vocational rehabilitation. They also assist with medical management by attending doctor appointments with the injured employee and asking questions the injured worker might not think off. They then act as a middle man between the employee, the employer, and the insurer, to relay information and ensure a swift but safe return to work.

Rehabilitation fundamentally means assistance in preparing for or obtaining employment. The general purpose of rehabilitation is to allow injured workers to return to their former employment or, if precluded from returning to their pre-injury job, to allow the injured employee to return to a modified job and also to encourage injured workers to increase their employability by acquiring new or additional skills through on-the-job training, skill enhancement, or a formal retraining program, which can range from simple typing courses to college level training.

Rehabilitation is intended to restore the injured employee, so the employee may return to a job related to the employee’s former employment or to a job in another work area which produces an economic status as close as possible to that the employee would have enjoyed without disability.

Who is Qualified for Rehabilitation Benefits?

A “qualified employee” entitled to receive rehabilitation services. Minnesota Rule 5220.0100(22) defines “qualified employee” as: An employee who, because of the effects of a work-related injury or disease, whether or not combined with the effects of a prior injury or disability:

  • is permanently precluded or is likely to be permanently precluded from engaging in the employee’s usual and customary occupation or from engaging in the job the individual held at the time of injury;
  • cannot reasonably be expected to return to suitable gainful employment with the date-of-injury employer; and
  • can reasonably be expected to return to suitable gainful employment through the provision of rehabilitation services considering the treating physician’s opinion of the employee’s work ability.

Note: Although the rules specifically require that an employee be “permanently precluded” from engaging in his or her customary occupation, the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals held that an employee need only be presently precluded from engaging in previous work duties. Rehabilitation assistance is available so long as an employee is precluded from returning to previous work duties as a result of the injury

You Have the Right to Choose your own QRC

Minnesota Law provides injured employees the right to choose their own QRC to work with to help them get back to work. The Attorneys at Heimerl & Lammers have built relationships with QRC’s throughout the Twin Cities metro area. We can help you choose which QRC might be the right fit for you, as well as assist you in determining whether a change in QRC’s is necessary or appropriate.

Contact us today for a free consultation on any Workers’ Compensation related manner.