Top Risks That Could Jeopardize Your Workers’ Compensation Claim in Minnesota

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Jeopardize Your Workers’ Compensation Claim in Minnesota

A workplace injury or illness can be devastating, leading to lost wages and mounting medical bills. Workers’ compensation provides critical wage replacement and health care benefits to aid recovery. However, these important benefits could be denied or curtailed if your claim is rejected. 

At Mottaz & Sisk Injury and Work Compensation Lawyers, we have years of knowledge and industry experience. Call us at 763-421-8226 today for your free consultation.

Understanding the Workers’ Compensation System

Navigating Minnesota’s complex workers’ compensation system requires professional guidance to avoid pitfalls. Several key risks must be handled carefully to protect your right to fair compensation. An experienced Minnesota workers’ compensation attorney understands these hazards and can support you through the claims process.


This article reveals the top threats that jeopardize Minnesota workers’ compensation claims. A qualified attorney’s early involvement can safeguard your case. We also address common worker questions to clarify the claims procedure. Understanding the risks empowers you to make informed choices regarding your case.

Key Reasons Minnesota Workers’ Comp Claims Get Denied

Several critical factors impact whether your workers’ compensation claim gets approved. Here are the leading causes of denied claims in Minnesota:

  • Failing to Prove Work-Relatedness: You must show that your injury or illness directly arose from your employment or conditions at work.

  • Violating Safety Rules and Policies: Disregarding clear workplace safety guidelines could make your injury ineligible.  

  • Missing Strict Reporting Deadlines: You must notify your employer within set time limits that vary based on injury type.

  • Prior Condition Aggravation: If a pre existing health problem contributed to your injury, your claim may be denied.

  • Drug or Alcohol Intoxication: Testing positive for substances could disqualify your workplace accident claim.


Let’s explore these top reasons and how an attorney protects your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits.

Inability to Prove Work-Related Injury

The single most common reason Minnesota workers’ compensation claims get denied is the inability to prove that the injury directly arose from employment. You must clearly show that you got hurt or sickened due to performing job duties, workplace accidents, or harmful conditions at work.  


Some key examples of potentially eligible work-related injuries include:

  • Slip or trip and fall accidents on site

  • Getting struck by workplace machinery or equipment 

  • Repetitive strain from making the same motions for hours on end

  • Trauma from heavy lifting or other strenuous physical job tasks

  • Motor vehicle crashes while driving for work

  • Exposure to toxic workplace dusts, fumes, or chemicals


When injuries happen at work, it might seem obvious that they would qualify under workers’ compensation. However, self-insured employers and insurance companies often dispute claims, arguing that the harm relates to personal health factors instead.


For example, they may contend injuries stem from age-related arthritis or degeneration rather than job duties. Or they may claim heart attacks, strokes, or other medical emergencies caused by preexisting conditions, not work stresses.


Skilled Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyers know how to gather convincing evidence and testimony to fight such arguments. They work aggressively to prove direct cause through methods like:

  • Interviewing witnesses, supervisors, co-workers 

  • Securing physician statements connecting work factors to injury

  • Presenting data on past similar workplace hazards and OSHA violations

  • Substantiating the immediate onset of symptoms at work and their steady worsening


With reputable medical opinions and documentation to demonstrate work-relatedness, an attorney improves the odds your claim gets approved.

Violating Posted Safety Policies or Protocols

All Minnesota workplaces must adhere to state and federal occupational safety laws and standards. Most companies craft guidelines tailored to potential hazards within their facilities and operations.


Under the workers’ compensation system, employees essentially waive the right to sue for injuries in exchange for automatic eligibility for benefits. However, violations of clearly posted safety policies could strip away your coverage.


If you disregard direct, written safety regulations like:  

  • Failing to utilize personal protective equipment

  • Neglecting to follow lockout/tagout procedures on machinery

  • Working on equipment without proper safeguards in place

  • Refusing to wear harnesses for fall protection


…and then get injured, the self-insured employer or insurer may accuse you of serious misconduct. They could allege you intentionally endangered yourself, aiming to deny benefits.


However, seasoned attorneys fight back hard against such misconduct allegations. In some cases, violations stem from bona fide mistakes versus intentional disregard of safety rules. Or supervisors allowed lax enforcement of protocols or pressured speed over safety.  


A dedicated lawyer gathers convincing proof that you did not deliberately or voluntarily choose to get injured by flouting policies. Showing sound rationale for any alleged breaches often wins over decision-makers.

Missing Strict Claim Reporting Deadlines

To qualify for workers’ compensation wage and medical benefits in Minnesota, you must provide prompt written notice within set claim reporting time limits based on the type of injury sustained.


The short legal deadlines include:

  • Traumatic injuries: Must notify your employer within 14 days 

  • Repetitive motion or strain injuries: 30 days

  • Occupational illnesses or diseases – Like asbestosis, chemical poisoning, work-related cancer: 3 years


Delayed reporting can jeopardize your entire claim. Self-insured employers commonly leverage reporting technicalities to deny liability. 


But the deadlines seem short especially when coping with injury trauma or slow-onset cumulative damage that worsens over months of continued work exposure. Plus Minnesota law contains certain exceptions where late reporting gets excused for good reasons like the employer’s actual knowledge of the harm. 


A dedicated lawyer can argue past the reporting defense to revive eligibility for rightful benefits – even years later with latent diseases. Through savvy negotiation and advocacy, they may still be able to reopen denied claims. 

Preexisting Health Conditions Potentially Worsening Work Injuries

Another leading defense raised to dispute workers’ compensation claims in Minnesota involves pre existing medical circumstances that allegedly contributed to the harm. Self-insured employers often scour medical histories seeking signs of prior similar injuries, arthritis, cardiovascular problems, or other conditions.


They typically argue that even if workplace events like a slip and fall “precipitated, accelerated or aggravated” your preexisting troubles, such personal health factors caused the need for ongoing treatment. Some state laws outright bar claims involving pre existing conditions without any work aggravation.


But Minnesota statute only permits such defenses in very limited scenarios involving temporary flare-ups of old symptoms. The law states the work incident must majorly worsen the preexisting condition to award permanent workers’ compensation benefits even amid pre existing factors.


Further, when an individual had no impairment or need for care before the workplace injury, a skilled attorney frames the resulting disability as the employer’s liability. 


Through adept legal advocacy, they fight to expand the compensable consequences of poor workplace safety. Ongoing wage loss and medical care for the broad disability gets covered through Minnesota’s “full responsibility rule.”

Positive Drug Tests or Alcohol Impairment

Minnesota workers’ compensation law also recognizes intoxication defenses. If your blood alcohol level exceeded the state’s legal driving limit of .08 BAC or you tested positive for illicit or illegally used substances after the accident, the self-insured employer could be off the hook for damages.


However given that post-accident testing does not reflect your state when the incident occurred, attorneys dispute such findings:

  • Arguing prescriptions caused false positives

  • Contesting urine or breathalyzer results as unreliable

  • Fighting to exclude allegedly improper testing methods  


Skilled lawyers also counter that even willful intoxication alone cannot defeat claims unless it represents the sole proximate cause of injury per statute. 


Given workplace breakdowns like poor lighting, slippery floors, lack of guard rails, etc. often contribute to drunk worker accidents, it proves unreasonable to put all blame on their temporary lapse of care.

Report Confusing Government Notices Right Away

If the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry sends you confusing notices regarding your workers’ compensation case, bring them to your attorney without delay for guidance. 


Failing to meet strict reply deadlines of just 30 days on state paperwork could have dire consequences. It risks claims getting automatically denied and vital benefits halted for cooperating.


With adept legal advice, you can properly address questions and submit favorable evidence to keep your entitlements intact as your claim progresses. Never jeopardize your rights by missing response due dates.

FAQs on Protecting Workers’ Compensation Claims in Minnesota

Injured workers understandably have many pressing questions as they navigate the convoluted claims process seeking rightful benefits. Here are answers to several frequently asked questions on defending your entitlements:

Failing to report the injury promptly and truthfully per strict legal guidelines tops the list. Also, inaccurately describing how the harm occurred or attempting to misrepresent its degree could constitute fraud. Breaking major, clearly posted workplace safety rules and then getting injured often forfeits compensation too.

Under Minnesota’s full responsibility rule, preexisting conditions do not preclude workers’ compensation benefits if your work injury substantially worsens your health. The focus stays on the workplace incident as the prime cause of ongoing impairment, not your prior status. Skilled lawyers prevent attempts to emphasize unrelated medical history inappropriately
Testing over the legal alcohol limit of .08 BAC or positive for illegal drugs creates potential claim hazards. But even willful intoxication is not an absolute workers’ compensation bar in Minnesota if other factors like poor premises safety contribute. Regardless, notify your attorney promptly regarding any substance-related risks requiring strategic response.
Promptly consult your workers’ compensation attorney whenever you receive complex documents regarding your occupational injury or illness claim in Minnesota. Missing response deadlines of just 30 days could forfeit your benefits rights. With skilled guidance, you can appropriately address questions to keep your case advancing properly.

As highlighted throughout this guide, skilled Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyers offer critical guidance to avoid missteps threatening your benefits eligibility. Unlike vulnerable unrepresented claimants, knowledgeable attorneys identify and respond to key hazards like:

  • Failing work-relationship evidence
  • Allegations of safety violations
  • Missed claim reporting guidelines
  • Attempts to blame preexisting conditions
  • Positive impairment test findings

They also professionally handle confusing paperwork and proceedings while fighting against wrongful denials. Ultimately an attorney aims to build an ironclad, approvable claim by overcoming these frequent compensation barriers.

The Bottom Line: Protect Your Right to Fair Workers’ Compensation in Minnesota

Sustaining debilitating workplace injuries disrupt lives, and denied workers’ comp claims only exacerbate the financial and medical devastation. Far too often, Minnesota’s complex and unforgiving compensation system unjustly halts critical wage loss and health care benefits after on-the-job harm.


Mottaz & Sisk Injury Law has 20+ years of experience dealing with workers’ compensation matters. Please call us at 763-421-8226 for a free consultation if you have experienced a work-related injury.