If the insurer has said they deny liability, you should call a lawyer right away. Consultations are free, and the lawyer can advise you whether your claim is a good one - and help you protect your right to pursue it. You generally have 3 years from when the employer reported your injury, but the sooner you take steps the better.
The insurance company wants to cut off your benefits
If you received notice that your benefits are being cut off, you need to call a lawyer right away. Often in Minnesota, you only have 12 days to request a conference to contest the cutoff. If you wait too long, you could be without benefits for months before you can get a hearing. Again, there is no charge to talk to a lawyer to find out what you are entitled to and how to get it.
The work comp insurer won't pay your medical bills
A lawyer can advise you about getting your medical bills paid by the insurance company as long as the bills are reasonable, necessary, and related to your work injury. You can also find out if there are ways to get the treatment you need in the meantime - until a decision about whether work comp has to pay or not is made.
Doing your job causes you pain or increases it
In Minnesota, you don't have to have been injured in a specific incident. If your job causes medical problems like carpal tunnel, tendonitis, deterioration of your joints or back, etc., due to repetitive use or overuse, you may well be entitled to compensation including wage loss, medical treatment, and the assistance of a rehabilitation specialist to help you and your employer find a way to help you continue working without making you worse.
You can no longer work at all
If you cannot work at all any more, a lawyer can help you get compensation through workers' compensation if one of the reasons for your disability is a work injury. You may also be entitled to retraining under workers' compensation - or even to Social Security disability. As always, you should get a free consultation regarding these issues. It's important that you find out your rights and about all the resources available to you.
You were hurt at work and now you have been fired
You may well be entitled to recover workers' compensation benefits if you were fired and you still have restrictions due to your work injury. A lawyer can help you figure that out - and it costs nothing to find out what your rights are. The lawyer can also advise you how to coordinate unemployment and workers' compensation as well as how to continue to get medical care for your work injury - and even get help finding a new job or retraining.
You work at a wage loss because of your work injury
If your work injury resulted in your having to go back to work at a wage loss, you may well be entitled to replacement of some of your lost wages. The rules are difficult to understand, but you can find out for free what your rights are if you contact a lawyer experienced in workers compensation.
Your doctor says you have a percentage of disability
If your doctor has given you a "permanent partial disability" rating of a given percent (%) due to your work injury, the work comp insurer must either pay or contest that rating within a given period of time. If their doctor (the "independent medical examiner") agrees you have a rating, you will be entitled to a payment for that. Even if there is a difference between what your doctor says and what the insurance doctor says, as long as the rating is related to your work injury, the insurer must pay the smaller amount. You are free to contest which is the correct rating even if you get paid something. A lawyer understands these rules and will help you figure it out. The lawyer will only get paid a percentage of the disputed amount.
You have aggravated an old work injury
When workers have an injury - especially a back, knee, shoulder or other joint injury - it is common to have problems again over the years. If your current job aggravated a previous work injury, that often involves multiple employers and/or multiple insurance companies - and it is likely that all of them will refuse to pay, using the excuse that it is someone else's responsibility. A lawyer can help sort it out and possibly even get someone to pay while it is being sorted out.
Your work injury was the fault of a third party (not the employer or a co-employee)
If you were in a car accident while working or if you slipped and fell on non-work property while you were working, you may have the right to recover from the at-fault party outside what you get in work comp. The rules about how work comp and personal injury recoveries are coordinated are complicated. If you settle your personal injury claim without legal advice, you could risk having to pay part or even all of it back to the work comp insurer and/or your employer. To protect YOUR rights to a work-related personal injury claim, you should call a lawyer who is familiar with these rules before you agree to any kind of settlement of either the work comp claim or the personal injury claim - and certainly before you sign anything.
Additional resources provided by the author
Check our website at www.katolaw.com or call us at 507-625-3000 (toll free at 877-599-5550). You can also check the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry website at www.doli.state.mn.us for general information.