What Damages Can I Recover In A Workers Comp Lawsuit In Minnesota?

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When a Minnesota worker suffers an injury on the job, they may have the right to recover damages by filing a workers’ compensation claim or lawsuit against their employer. However, determining what damages can be recovered can be complicated. This guide from a Minnesota workers’ comp attorney at Mottaz & Sisk Injury Lawyers aims to clarify workers’ comp in Minnesota.


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.

Overview of the Workers’ Compensation System in Minnesota

Minnesota operates a no-fault workers’ compensation system. Injured employees can receive wage loss and medical benefits without proving their employer was negligent or at fault for causing the work accident. In exchange for these automatic benefits, employees give up their right to sue their employer directly in civil court for damages. However, in certain situations, an injured worker may still be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against a third party who shares responsibility for causing their injuries. A Minnesota workers’ comp attorney can advise when this is possible.

Some key things to understand about how Minnesota’s workers’ comp system functions include:


Most Employers are Required to Have Coverage

With few exceptions, all public and private employers in Minnesota with at least one employee must carry workers’ compensation insurance. This includes both full-time and part-time employees. Independent contractors may also be covered in some cases. Self-employed individuals can voluntarily elect coverage.


Benefits Provided Regardless of Fault 

As a no fault system, workers’ comp in Minnesota provides wage loss and medical benefits to cover bills, lost income, and other damages caused by a work injury, regardless of who was at fault. Certain benefits may be reduced if the employee’s injury resulted from intoxication or an intentional self-inflicted injury.


Exclusive Remedy Provision 

Employees relinquish their right to sue their employer in exchange for no-fault benefits. This is known as the “exclusive remedy” provision. However, taking legal action against other responsible third parties may still be possible.

Understanding these critical foundational aspects provides a framework for exploring what damages and benefits an injured Minnesota worker may recover by filing a workers’ compensation claim.


Lost Wages and Income Benefits in Minnesota Workers’ Comp

For many injured employees, covering lost income while recuperating while out of work is one of the primary needs and concerns following an on-the-job accident. Under Minnesota Statute 176.101, eligible employees whose work injury results in disability may receive wage loss benefits to partially replace lost income. There are several types of wage replacement benefits:


Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits

If the work accident injury results in a total inability to work temporarily, TDD benefits may supply income while recuperating. For 2023, the maximum weekly TTD benefit amount is $1,114 per week.


Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) Benefits  

The worker can only perform modified light duty or part-time work while recovering. In that case, TPD benefits make up a portion of the difference between what they earn at the delicate duty job and their regular pre-injury wage. 


Permanent Total Disability (PTD) Benefits

Suppose the injury causes permanent inability to secure gainful employment. In that case, endless total disability benefits provide partial wage replacement indefinitely, usually until age 67, under Minnesota’s Workers’ Compensation system. The weekly PTD benefit maximum for 2023 is $963 per week.


Payment of Medical Bills and Expenses

In addition to wage loss replacement, Minnesota workers’ compensation covers the total costs of reasonable and necessary medical treatment directly related to the work injury with no copays or deductibles for the injured worker. This can include expenses like:

  • Emergency care and hospitalization

  • Surgeries and procedures 

  • Prescription medications

  • Physical or occupational therapy  

  • Chiropractic or massage treatments

  • Medical equipment and assistive devices

  • Mileage for trips to medical appointments

There are no capped benefit maximums on the amount of medical treatment costs Minnesota workers’ comp insurance must cover for a work-related injury or illness. As long as treatment is deemed reasonably required and related to the effects of the work accident, bills should be fully covered for as long as needed.


Vocational Rehabilitation Services

For workers who cannot return to their pre-injury jobs due to permanent restrictions caused by their workplace accident injuries, Minnesota’s Workers’ Compensation system assists with retraining into a new occupation. Vocational rehabilitation services funded under workers’ comp can include skills assessment, counseling, education costs, tools for a new trade, and job placement assistance. In some cases, even self-employment business start-up costs may be covered.


Other Benefits Under Minnesota Workers’ Comp

Permanent Partial Disability Awards – If a work injury causes permanent loss of function or severe scarring or disfigurement to the head, neck, hands, or arms, additional compensation may be awarded under MN Statute 176.105 based on the extent of fuctional loss.

Death Benefits – If a workplace accident or illness proves fatal, surviving dependents may claim benefits to assist with lost financial support. Parents, children, spouses, or other financial dependents may receive partial wage replacement benefits subject to weekly minimums and maximums. Some benefits for dependent children may continue until age 25 if they remain enrolled as full-time students. Funeral and burial costs are also covered up to $15,000.


Situations Where a Third-Party Lawsuit is Permitted

While employees generally cannot sue their employer directly due to the exclusive remedy provision, taking legal action against other third parties who share fault for an injury may be possible. Potential scenarios include: 


Defective Equipment Manufacturers

Suppose a piece of defective machinery or unsafe equipment contributed to causing the workplace accident. In that case, the equipment manufacturer or distributor may be sued as a third-party defendant for product liability. 


Premises Owners  

The property owner may share liability if the injury occurred due to an unsafe condition on someone else’s property. For example, a delivery driver hurt in a fall due to poor maintenance on a customer’s premises could sue the customer’s business.


Motor Vehicle Accidents

When injured while driving for work purposes, action may sometimes be taken against an at-fault driver of another vehicle involved in the crash. 

In scenarios like these where someone other than the employer bears some fault for the injuries, a skilled Minnesota work accident attorney may help navigate options to take legal action, recover additional damages not available under workers’ compensation, and advise whether to settle or decline the Workers’ Comp claim is beneficial.

Critical Steps Involved in Bringing a Workers’ Comp Claim in Minnesota

The specific process for filing a Workers’ Comp claim in Minnesota involves several essential steps injury victims should understand, including:  


Timely Reporting Injury to Employer 

In most cases, Minnesota employees have strict notice requirements for reporting their job-related injury to management at work. Written notice must be made within 14 days of the accident, subject to certain exceptions. Promptly saying so meets this notice requirement and allows the employer to assist with arranging appropriate medical care.  


Completing the First Report of Injury 

The First Report of Injury details the accident and is the official record of reporting the work comp claim with Minnesota’s Department of Labor and Industry (DLI). Employers must file this document within ten days of receiving notice from the injured employee.


Communicating with Insurance Claims Adjusters

Insurers will assign an adjuster to investigate the claim, determine workers’ comp benefits eligibility, authorize treatment, and handle administration, such as coordinating payment to care providers. Responding to requests for medical authorizations, records, contact information, and other paperwork from claims staff is crucial.      


Understanding Denials and Appealing Disputes

Unfortunately, claims staff don’t always make fair decisions approving benefits every injured Minnesota worker deserves. Denials of treatment requests or eligibility for lost wage replacement are common. Knowing the rights and process to appeal disputes is critical knowledge following any claims denial.

Having experienced legal counsel to advise through the claim process and deal with disputes can make a significant positive difference in obtaining total compensation.

The Benefits of Hiring a Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Benefits should begin flowing smoothly once their work injury is reported to their employer and insurance company. Unfortunately, many hard-working, injured Minnesota employees are denied, delayed, or shortchanged on rightful benefits without knowledgeable legal guidance. 

Rather than leave outcomes to chance, partnering with an experienced Minnesota workers’ comp attorney brings significant advantages, including:


Navigating Complex Laws and Regulations  

Even veteran HR staff rarely grasp all nuances of workers’ compensation law like seasoned local attorneys, who have explicitly focused on representing injured workers for years. Workers’ comp lawyers keep up with all the latest regulation changes, precedent rulings, and intricacies that make a difference.


Dealing With Difficult Insurance Company Adjusters

Insurers have whole teams trained to minimize payouts. Without pushback, they stall authorizations, downplay medical opinions, and pressure victims to settle claims fast for lower sums. Tenacious lawyers are confident in getting clients fair outcomes.              


Avoiding Missteps That Hurt the Claim  

Well-meaning attempts by nonlawyers to correspond with insurance adjusters often backfire with unintended legal consequences. Lawyers prevent mistakes that come back to haunt clients later.  


Leveling the Playing Field

Workers’ Comp pits experienced claims professionals against vulnerable individual injury victims ill-equipped to advocate alone. You had solid legal professionals in your corner to level this power imbalance for a more favorable case resolution.                                            


Not Having to Go It Alone  

The system leaves many injury victims lost, overwhelmed, and fighting uphill battles alone. With respected law partners fighting for your interests, you can focus energy on healing while attorneys tackle legal hurdles.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              


Ensuring Maximum, Rightful Compensation  

Optimal case results require understanding every benefit and compensation angle while tenaciously following through persistence as needed. Lawyers leave no stone unturned, getting clients everything they are legally entitled to.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

For Minnesota work accident victims, critical worker protections include:

  • Employees deserve security that reporting injuries won’t mean retaliation. MN Statute 176.82 protects your job following injury claims.

  • Injured workers should receive responsive medical care, steady income support when unable to work, and assistance returning to productive employment when ready. These systems facilitate dignified outcomes.

When Should I Call a Minnesota Work Injury Attorney?

Ideally, contacting experienced counsel soon after a severe accident protects rights from the outset. However, many only realize the need to call lawyers after claims are mishandled:


When Vital Treatment is Denied or Delayed  

Injured employees forced to wait weeks for surgery authorizations or cut off from physician-prescribed physical therapy tend to lose patience with insurance delays seeking attorneys for help. 


If You Are Pressured to Settle Too Early

Refuse premature lowball lump sum settlement attempts before knowing the full extent of medical implications or the vocational impact of permanent work restrictions. 


Loss of Trust with Claims Process  

Repeated stalling, denials, delays, and cover-up attempts understandably erode injured workers’ trust and patience, signaling the need to enlist counsel.


Once Employment is Terminated  

Ill-advised firing after filing an injury claim requires immediate lawyer consultation before making further statements or signing anything the employer provides.  

Frequently Asked Questions About Work Injuries in Minnesota

Those suffering the life disruption of a severe work injury likely have many questions about their situation and options. Below are answers to some common queries faced by injured Minnesota employees:

Yes, even injuries partly caused by your negligence are still covered, with a few limited exceptions involving severe and willful misconduct. Workers’ Comp operates as a no-fault insurance system, so benefits cannot be denied solely for playing a role in your accident.

You have every right to file a workers’ comp claim reporting your side of the incident. The insurance company may investigate and weigh evidence from both sides before approving or denying the claim. Keep writing your injury to company management, save documentation, get witness statements, and, as needed, have an experienced Minnesota work injury lawyer help advocate your claim.
Under Minnesota law, compensation for lost wages is not paid for the first three lost calendar days following the accident. After this waiting period, wage loss benefits then start from day four. Payment of medical expenses begins sooner, as the waiting period does not apply to medical costs. Emergency treatment and care for the injury should be covered immediately as needed.
It is illegal for employers to retaliate against an employee for claiming workers’ comp benefits they are entitled to by law after a work accident. Firing an injured employee for requesting medical leave or filing a valid workers’ compensation claim constitutes wrongful termination, violating MN state statute 176.82.
Don’t hesitate to call an experienced Minnesota work accident lawyer for advice and legal representation assistance. Having knowledgeable counsel on your side tremendously helps you get the benefits and care you deserve without undue obstacles or delays. The attorneys at Mottaz & Sisk help injury victims navigate the complex legal and insurance systems daily.

How Mottaz & Sisk Injury Lawyers Can Help

Our attorneys have leveraged an extensive Workers’ Compensation skill set to assist Minnesota employees in situations exactly like yours.


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