Recent Developments in Minnesota Worker’s Compensation Cases

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry just recently published their annual Worker’s Compensation System Report. Though it was just published in June of this year, collection of these statistics lags somewhat, so the numbers are for 2014. In today’s post I’d like to share some of the important statistics that this report updated and some historical background that could prove helpful to you in pursuing your own worker’s compensation case.

  • Claims in Minnesota have been following national trends in that the overall amount of claims are down, but benefits per claim have increased at a rate greater than wages. Medical benefits have seen the lion’s share of this increase, with indemnity benefits remaining stable relative to wages.
  • There were 4.4 paid claims in total per 100 FTE (full-time-equivalent) workers in 2014. 3.4 of these were medical-only claims, and 1.02 were indemnity claims. Overall claims have been dropping sharply in the past decade — 49% since 1997, when employers saw 7.0 paid medical claims and 1.74 indemnity claims per 100 full-time workers. This plummet in claim numbers is all the more unusual as the amount of total covered workers has increased since 1997.
  • System costs have fluctuated more than claim rates have over the past decade, but have been on a downward trend since 2005 and have been relatively flat since 2010. 2014’s system cost was $1.27 per $100 of payroll, down from a high of $1.72 in 2004. There is a very small increase from 2010, when it hit a low of $1.21, but the cost has been holding right around $1.25 each year since then. The vast majority of system cost goes to medical benefits and insurer expenses, which each take up just over 30% of the total cost. Indemnity benefits take up 28.4%, leaving a relatively tiny amount going to vocational rehab benefits and state administration.
  • Dispute rates have been on an upward trend since 1997, but have leveled off since 2008. Claim petitions are the most common type of dispute and have seen the sharpest rise over this period. Medical disputes overtook continuance disputes in 2006 and have remained in second place by a hair since then. All types of disputes have seen at least a small and steady rise over the past decade, however.
  • Attorney involvement is very sharply up since 1997, climbing steadily every year and showing no signs of slowing down. 16.9% of paid indemnity claims had attorney involvement in 1997; that number is now all the way up to 24.8% currently, representing an increase of 46%.
  • Claim denial rates have fluctuated since 1997, but appear to be back on the rise again. Total claim denial percentage hit a low of 12.1% in 2010, but has since been slowly but steadily climbing to a current figure of 16%. This is higher than any point in the past decade except for 2004, when claim denials were at 16.7%.

What can one make of all this data? While employers are proportionally paying more in medical benefits now than 10 years ago, the total number of claims are also substantially down despite increased coverage for full-time workers. The marked rise in claim denials, dispute rates and attorney involvement indicates that employers are fighting claims more often, and this may be influencing the significant drop in total claims. Don’t let an employer snowjob you into believing that their costs are up, however; the data clearly shows that systems costs are down from a decade ago and have been steadily trending downward.

Given the current climate, it only makes sense to engage the services of an experienced personal injury attorney if you encounter any friction in your claims process. We can obtain justice for you. Call us at (651) 505-3580 or fill out our contact form to arrange a free consultation.