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Workers' Compensation - Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What types of injuries are covered by Minnesota Workers' Compensation?
  2. Are all on-the-job injuries covered by workers' compensation?
  3. What benefits are available to me under the Minnesota Workers' Compensation Act?
  4. What is a Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant (QRC) and am I entitled to one?
  5. The insurance company is not paying my provider for my medical treatment or won't approve treatment. What should I do?
  6. My doctor gave me restrictions, and my employer says they don't have work within those restrictions. I was laid off or fired. What do I do?
  7. I found a new job, but I'm earning less money. Am I entitled to the difference?
  8. Do I receive any compensation if I have a permanent injury as a result of carpal tunnel surgery?
  9. How much does it cost to hire a workers' compensation lawyer?
  10. I got a letter from the workers' compensation insurance company scheduling me for an IME. Do I have to go?
  11. I received a Notice of Intent to Discontinue Benefits from the insurance company. What should I do?
  12. My doctor released me to work with light duty restrictions, but my employer does not have any work within those restrictions. Do I have to look for a new job?
  13. How long do I have to report my injury?
  14. How long do I have to make a claim for workers' compensation benefits?
  15. Can I get fired for filing a workers' comp claim?
  16. I was hurt at work, and I missed time off of work. Does my employer have to take me back?
  17. How soon does the workers' comp insurance company begin paying my benefits after my injury?
  18. How do I know if the insurance company is correctly paying my wage loss?
  19. I have a condition that I believe is due to my work activities, but my employer says it's not work-related. What can I do?
  20. If I have a pre-existing condition that is aggravated by my job or work activities, am I entitled to workers' compensation benefits?
  21. I was hurt at work, but my employer says they don't have workers' comp insurance. What do I do?
  22. Are independent contractors entitled to workers' compensation benefits?
  23. What is retraining and how can I get it?
  24. The workers' comp insurance company has been late in paying my benefits. Can I do anything about it?


I was hurt at work. What should I do?

First, report your injury to your supervisor and ask him or her to fill out a First Report of Injury. Next, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Your employer may ask you to see one of their doctors for an initial examination, but you have the right to see your own doctor if you wish.

Tell your doctor you were hurt at work, explain your symptoms, and ask him or her to provide you with work restrictions, if appropriate. Provide those work restrictions to your employer. Follow your doctor's recommendations for treatment. Contact a lawyer to learn how to protect your rights during the process.

What types of injuries are covered by Minnesota Workers' Compensation?

Covered injuries may include any type of injury, illness, or condition that occurs because of your work activities, an aggravation or re-injury of a pre-existing injury or condition, or conditions or injuries that develop gradually, such as low back conditions, repetitive motion injuries, or carpal tunnel syndrome. Workers' comp also may cover illnesses that are contracted in the workplace, or conditions that develop as a result of exposure to chemicals or toxins.

Are all on-the-job injuries covered by workers' compensation?

Most are. The workers' compensation system is designed to provide benefits to injured workers whether an injury is caused by the employer's or employee's fault. But there are some limits. Generally, injuries caused because an employee is intoxicated or using illegal drugs are not covered by workers' compensation.

What benefits are available to me under the Minnesota Workers' Compensation Act?

What you get depends on the severity of your injury and the amount of time you were away from work. At a minimum, all reasonable medical bills should be covered. Here's a quick benefits summary:

  • If you miss work temporarily… You receive two-thirds of your wage loss for up to 130 weeks. This is called Temporary Total Disability and it begins if you miss more than three days of work. However, there is a maximum on this benefit, currently at $850.00 per week.
  • If you return at a lower wage... You receive two-thirds of the difference between your old wage and new wage for up to 225 weeks.
  • If your injury is permanent... You receive Permanent Partial Disability payments when your physician assigns a disability rating to your injury. In addition, if you are never able to return to work as a result of either a specific or a gradual wear and tear work injury, then you may be entitled to Permanent Total (long term) Disability benefits on a weekly basis subject to the maximum rate of $850.00 per week. This benefit is reduced by any Social Security disability benefits received and this benefit is usually only payable to age 67.
  • If you need help going back to work… You may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services provided by a qualified rehabilitation consultant (QRC) to document your doctor's restrictions and assist you in returning to work. You may even be entitled to retraining benefits.


What is a Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant (QRC) and am I entitled to one?

A qualified rehabilitation consultant (QRC) provides professional rehabilitation services if you need help returning to work due to your work injury. You have the right to choose your own QRC. If you do not, your employer and their insurance company may refer you to one. It is important that you choose your own QRC to make sure your QRC is looking after your best interests. At SiebenCarey, we can provide you with a list of QRCs to contact. There are specific time limits with regard to requesting the assistance of a QRC of your own choosing. If you have just been contacted by a QRC assigned to you, contact an attorney right away to preserve your right to select the QRC of your choice.

The insurance company is not paying my provider for my medical treatment or won't approve treatment. What should I do?

Insurance companies frequently deny payment for chiropractic treatment or physical therapy, or refuse to authorize MRIs, CT-scans, or a consultation with a specialist. If the insurance company is denying payment for treatment related to your injury, or refuses to authorize the treatment you need, contact our workers compensation attorneys for assistance. You will not have to pay attorney's fees for help in getting your medical bills paid.

My doctor gave me restrictions, and my employer says they don't have work within those restrictions. I was laid off or fired. What do I do?

If your employer cannot accommodate your restrictions, you may be entitled to wage loss benefits and/or the assistance of a Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant (QRC). It is important to know that if your employer tells you that you've been laid off due to economic reasons or if you were fired for reasons other than your work injury, you may still be entitled to wage loss benefits, so long as you have physical restrictions that limit your ability to secure employment at an earning level comparable to the amount you were earning at the time of your injury.

I found a new job, but I'm earning less money. Am I entitled to the difference?

If you return to work with restrictions, you may be entitled to Temporary Partial Disability benefits, or two-thirds of the difference between what you were making at the time of your injury, and what you are earning now.

Do I receive any compensation if I have a permanent injury as a result of carpal tunnel surgery?

Minnesota Workers' Compensation law has set up a schedule of percentages for most, but not all, medical conditions. That percentage is then multiplied by a dollar value to determine your entitlement for Permanent Partial Disability benefits. Even if the workers' compensation insurance company paid you Permanent Partial Disability benefits, you may be entitled to more. Often insurance companies inaccurately calculate your entitlement to Permanent Partial Disability benefits.

How much does it cost to hire a workers' compensation lawyer?

SiebenCarey handles workers' compensation cases on a contingency fee basis only. This means that you pay nothing if we do not recover benefits on your behalf. In Minnesota, the fees received by workers' compensation attorneys are set by Minnesota law. If we recover monetary benefits on your behalf, we receive 25% of the first $4,000 and 20% thereafter, up to a maximum of $13,000. If your case involves a medical or rehabilitation dispute only, the workers' compensation insurance company is responsible for paying our attorney fees.

I got a letter from the workers' compensation insurance company scheduling me for an IME. Do I have to go?

It depends. An independent medical examination (IME) is an exam conducted by a doctor hired by the insurance company. This doctor issues an opinion regarding the cause of your injury, the extent of your injury and work restrictions. The doctor's opinion can have a serious impact on your entitlement to benefits. If you have questions about your rights in this area, please contact one of the workers' compensation lawyers at SiebenCarey.

I received a Notice of Intent to Discontinue Benefits from the insurance company. What should I do?

If you receive a Notice of Intent to Discontinue Benefits (NOID) that means the insurance company is attempting to cut off your wage loss benefits. Contact us immediately! You have a very limited amount of time to challenge the insurance company's attempt to discontinue your benefits. Just because the insurance company says they are discontinuing your benefits does not mean they are correct. If this happens, contact a workers' compensation attorney at SiebenCarey to explore your rights.

My doctor released me to work with light duty restrictions, but my employer does not have any work within those restrictions. Do I have to look for a new job?

Generally you need to look for work within your restrictions. However, if your restrictions are permanent and your employer is unable to accommodate your restrictions, you will have to begin looking for a new job. To review your options, contact a workers' compensation lawyer at SiebenCarey.

How long do I have to report my injury?

As a general rule, you should report your injury to your employer within 30 days, but you may have up to 180 days to report the injury in some circumstances. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Even if you did not report your injury within these time frames, there is still a possibility that we can make a claim on your behalf.

How long do I have to make a claim for workers' compensation benefits?

Generally, you must make an initial claim for benefits within three years of your injury if a first report of injury is filed. If no first report of injury is filed, you have 6 years from the date of the injury. However, there are many exceptions to this general rule. Even if your injury happened 5, 10, 15, or 20 years ago, you may be entitled to benefits. If the employer or insurer has paid any workers compensation benefits, including a medical bill or wage loss benefit, there is no time limit to file a claim.

Can I get fired for filing a workers' comp claim?

No. Minnesota law prohibits an employer from firing an employee in retaliation for filing a workers' compensation claim.

I was hurt at work, and I missed time off of work. Does my employer have to take me back?

No however, if your employer refuses to take you back after you've been released to work for light duty, or if your employer cannot accommodate your restrictions, you may be entitled to wage loss benefits and the assistance of a Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant (QRC).

How soon does the workers' comp insurance company begin paying my benefits after my injury?

Generally, the insurer must make payment within 14 days after receiving notice of time lost due to a work injury. If you are receiving temporary partial disability benefits, the insurer has 10 days from the day you send in your check stubs to make payment. If the insurance company has been ordered to make payments by the workers' compensation division, a workers' comp judge, or the Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals, payment must be made within 14 days.

Not surprisingly, insurance companies are often late with their payments. If you are out of work, or working at a wage loss, late payments can put you in a difficult financial situation. In some instances, there may be penalties available against the employer or insurer if they are continuously late.

How do I know if the insurance company is correctly paying my wage loss?

Your wage loss benefits are calculated by a specific formula set up under the Minnesota workers' compensation laws. To determine the amount you are entitled to, first, your average weekly wage (AWW) is calculated, usually by averaging your gross earnings over the 26 weeks prior to your date of injury. If you are off work completely due to your work injury, you are entitled to total temporary disability benefits, which is two-thirds of your average weekly wage up to a maximum of $850 per week. If you are working at a reduced wage, you are entitled to temporary partial disability, which is two-thirds of the difference between what you were earning at the time of your injury and what you are currently earning. Remember, workers' compensation wage loss benefits are non-taxable.

If you believe your wage loss benefits are not properly calculated, contact a workers' compensation attorney at SiebenCarey.

I have a condition that I believe is due to my work activities, but my employer says it's not work-related. What can I do?

There are many types of conditions that people don't instantly associate with workers' compensation. Some injuries, like degenerative back conditions, arthritis of the joints, ligament tears, repetitive motion injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, take months or years to develop. These types of injuries may be compensable under the workers' compensation system. Other conditions, such as heart attacks, chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS)/reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), respiratory conditions from exposure to toxins, hepatitis, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression may also be compensable under the workers' compensation system.

If your employer or the workers' compensation insurance company says that your condition is not work related, but you believe that it may be, call us today for a free consultation.

If I have a pre-existing condition that is aggravated by my job or work activities, am I entitled to workers' compensation benefits?

Employers and workers' compensation insurers frequently try to deny claims if an injured worker has prior injuries or pre-existing conditions. If your work-injury is a "substantial contributing factor" and has aggravated your current condition, it is covered under work comp,

I was hurt at work, but my employer says they don't have workers' comp insurance. What do I do?

Call us today! In Minnesota, employers are required to carry workers' comp insurance, but unfortunately, some don't. If your employer did not have insurance, you are still covered for workers' compensation benefits through the Special Compensation Fund.

Are independent contractors entitled to workers' compensation benefits?

It depends. This situation arises quite frequently in the IT field and in the construction industry. Even if your employer says you're an "independent contractor," it does not mean that you are one under Minnesota Workers' Compensation law. In order to be considered an "independent contractor," rather than an employee, several specific criteria must be met. Generally, to determine whether you're an independent contractor or not, a judge would consider the following factors: 1) the right to control the means and manner of performance; 2) the mode of payment; 3) the furnishing of tools and materials; 4) control over the premises where the work was done; 5) the right of discharge; and 6) the degree of control one party has the right to exert over another. Many people who work in the construction field are hired as "independent contractors," however; frequently these individuals are actually employees despite what they are labeled as by their employer.

If you are hurt on the job and are not sure whether you're an independent contractor or an employee, call us today for a free consultation.

What is retraining and how can I get it?

If you cannot return to your former job due to your work injury or a similar job at a comparable wage, you may be eligible for retraining benefits. Retraining is a formal course of study or schooling designed to help you return to pre-injury wage. Employers and workers' compensation insurers are required to give equal consideration to both rehabilitation benefits and retraining benefits. The reality is, however, that the insurance company will rarely voluntarily pay for retraining

The workers' comp insurance company has been late in paying my benefits. Can I do anything about it?

Penalties may be available if the insurance company is late paying your benefits and if the insurance company's denial is frivolous. Contact an experienced workers compensation lawyer at SiebenCarey for assistance with your claim.