What is workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation is an insurance policy, paid for by the employer. The insurance plan was created to prevent legal action in personal injury cases from going to legal action. If an employee is injured or develops a medical condition on the job, he or she can receive benefits to cover lost wages and medical expenses on the basis of a claim. Claimants receive those benefits as they waive their right to sue the employer for negligence.
Not mandated federally.
The federal government does not require that states have workers’ compensation programs. The Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) only refers to federal employees, military employees, and companies who are significantly involved in interstate commerce. States have latitude as to how they follow the federal example in the formulation of employee compensation programs.
Because it is a premium driven insurance policy, workers’ compensation claims are paid for, one way or the other, by the employers of the state. In some states, where the workers’ compensation policy is run by the state, employers pay premiums to the state plan. These premiums can increase with the risks of claim or the number of claims. In some states, employers pay premiums to private insurers. In other states, and in some instances for larger companies, the companies are self-insured and the payments are made directly to the claimant. No matter how the workers’ compensation is formulated, it’s in the interest of employers to minimize claims.
Minnesota workers’ compensation.
Minnesota has one of the strictest workers’ compensation mandates in the country. All employers are legally obligated to provide insurance coverage to all their employees, including those who are not U.S. citizens and those who are still minors. In Minnesota, all employers are required to either purchase workers’ compensation insurance from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, or provide proof that they have the financial ability to provide their own compensation programs to their employees. The mandate extends to any employees who provide services, including nannies and domestic helpers. There are a few specific exemptions.
Technically, the injury or medical condition is enough grounds to receive the benefits. The application for worker’s compensation does not imply blame or neglect on the part of the employer. The legal questions arise when the employer questions the nature of the injury as a work-related injury, or tries to minimize the size of the award.
How does one file for workers compensation in Minnesota?
- Once you are injured on the job or because of the job, you have to officially notify your employer, making a “lost-time claim” and sending a copy to your union (if there is one).
- The employer has to complete a First Report of Injury (FROI) form within ten days of the lost-time claim to report it to the employer’s workers compensation insurance company.
- If the disability lasts longer than three calendar days, the insurance company must file the FROI form with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry and the union.
- The employer must give you the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Employee Information Sheet along with your copy of the FROI.
Many workers’ compensation claims do become disputes that end up requiring legal intervention. Usually the disputes are caused by an initial misunderstanding or lack of communication. The information sheet will let employees know that there state department mediators who will help resolve claims problems before the dispute becomes a matter requiring litigation.
When will you need a lawyer?
You can usually get along without a lawyer if your claim is minor, like a twisted ankle or a cut requiring no more than a few stitches, you missed little or no work time from the injury, or your employer readily admits that the injury occurred at work.
You may need a lawyer if your employer denies your claim, or fails to deliver the necessary reports on time delaying your claim. In Minnesota, refusal to offer workers’ compensation insurance can be a serious infraction. You may need a lawyer if the settlement does not cover lost wages and expenses from the injury or illness, if your injury is severe, making your previous job impossible for you, or if you are fired or demoted for making the claim.
If you have been injured on the job and you need assistance filing for workers’ compensation or your claim has been denied and you need to appeal, the Law Office of Joshua Borken can help you. Contact us for more.