In Minnesota injured employees are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for conditions caused or aggravated by a work injury or activity. A work-related disability can be caused by a specific event, repetitious work activities over time, or occupational diseases contracted because of the hazards of the employment.
Compensable Work Injuries
- Specific Injury – Single and/or specific event-type injuries remain compensable as long as they arise out of and in the course of employment.
- Gillette or Cumulative Trauma – Compensation is allowed for injuries that occur as a result of repetitive minute trauma brought about by the performance of ordinary job duties. As a general rule, a Gillette injury culminates when the cumulative effect of repetitive trauma is sufficiently serious to disable the employee from further work. The date of disability resulting from a Gillette injury may be arrived at by considering various “ascertainable event.” These include the date on which an employee’s job duties are changed to accommodate his work restrictions, the date surgery is recommended, or the date an employee becomes unable to continue working.
- Occupational Disease – An occupational disease is a disease arising out of and in the course of employment peculiar to the occupation in which the employee is engaged and due to causes in excess of the hazards ordinary of employment and shall include undulant fever. Ordinary diseases of life to which the general public is equally exposed outside of employment are not compensable. Exceptions exist where the diseases follow as an incident of an occupational disease, or where the exposure peculiar to the occupation makes the disease an occupational disease hazard.
- Consequential Injuries – Subsequent injuries or disabilities that are a direct and natural consequence of a previous compensable injury are compensable.
- Psychological/Mental Injuries – Under Minnesota law only certain mental injuries are compensable including mental/physical and physical/mental. However, mental/mental injuries are not usually compensable unless it is diagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. Otherwise, solely mental injuries are not compensable. The Workers’ Compensation Act does not allow compensation for mental disability caused by work-related stress without “physical stimulus,” “trauma” or “injury.” Thus, the law requires a “physical” component to the injury.
- Idiopathic – An idiopathic condition is one which is peculiar to the individual or arises spontaneously or from an obscure or unknown cause.
- Intoxication – If intoxication of the employee is the proximate cause of the injury, there is no liability on the part of the employer for payment of workers’ compensation benefits. The burden of proof of these facts, however, is upon the employer.
- Intentional Injuries – An injury is not compensable if it was intentionally self-inflicted. The burden of proof of intentional self-infliction is on the employer. “Intentionally self-inflicted” language contemplates a deliberate intent on the part of the employee to cause injury or death, not a failure on the employee’s part to realize the probable consequences of foolish acts.
- Fraud or Misrepresentation – False representations about physical condition or health made by an employee in procuring employment may preclude the receipt of workers’ compensation benefits for an otherwise compensable injury if it is shown that: (1) the employee knowingly and willfully made a false representation as to his physical condition; (2) the employer substantially and justifiably relied on the false representation in the hiring of the employee; and (3) a causal connection existed between the false representation and the injury. The burden is on the employer to prove each of these elements.
If you have questions as to whether you or a loved one sustained a work related injury contact our office today for a free consultation.