When you have an on-the-job injury it can be anything from a cut, strain, fracture, etc. For most employees when they have a work-related injury, they don’t know what to do. It can become a very complicated and stressful situation. Consequently, it is a good idea to know what your injured worker’s rights are under Minnesota Workers’ Compensation law. Here are a few helpful tips.
1. Report your injury to your employer.
It is very important to report your injury immediately to your employer. Many employers have their own guidelines and rules about reporting work-related injuries. You should make sure to check with human resources or your employee handbook about the appropriate procedure. In respective of your company’s own policies, under Minnesota Workers’ Compensation law, you are required to report your injury within 30 days of the injury. Only in limited circumstances are you allowed to report your injury beyond 30 days. If you had a work-related injury but failed to report it within 30 days, you may want to discuss the matter with a Minnesota Workers’ Compensation lawyer to go over your options. There are exceptions to the reporting requirement that are very fact specific and an attorney may be better suited to discuss it with you.
2. Seek medical care or treatment.
We would expect that this would be a very obvious and self-explanatory recommendation, especially when dealing with work-related injuries. This is not always the case. If an injured worker is anything like me, you do not enjoy going to the doctor. In some situations, injured workers feel that the injury will heal on its own or they don’t think much of it. While in most cases, cuts and bruises will heal on their own but more significant soft tissue or even traumatic injuries won’t. It is always my recommendation that injured workers, in cases that don’t involve minor cuts and scrapes, seek medical care or treatment to evaluate the severity of the injuries. Not only is seeking medical care and treatment important to determine the extent of the injuries, it also allows opportunity for the injury to be documented and memorialized in the medical records. This is important. In some cases, documents get lost, witnesses are no longer available, and employers deny injuries even occurred. By documenting it in a medical note, it allows for others to know that it happened.
3. Ask questions.
I always tell my clients and potential clients that there is no such thing as a silly question. In most cases, this is your first and only work-related injury. Most of the documents and forms that are presented to you are new and can be a lot to try and understand. There are people out there who can assist you in answering your questions. The State of Minnesota offers a workers’ compensation hotline for you to ask questions. Also, most lawyers, including myself, offer free consultations. I am more than happy to sit down and discuss an injured worker’s case even though they may not even need a lawyer at the present time. I am more than happy to direct them and provide reassurance if necessary. It is not always necessary that a lawyer be retained, especially if benefits are being paid at the present time.
4. Be prepared.
We always like to believe that people and insurance companies will always do the right thing. Again, that is not always the case. In workers’ compensation, things can turn bad really quickly. In other words, an insurance company that has been paying bills and wage loss benefits can suddenly stop paying. It is important to have an understanding of what benefits are available to you and what your legal options are in getting those benefits. When an insurance company stops paying medical bills or benefits most of the time it’s not because they should be. Therefore, you should have a basic understanding of what benefits are available to you, and whether you may be potentially entitled to those benefits. In most cases, it is good to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to again go over your options.
The above is not a complete list of things that you should or should not be doing. Again, you should seek guidance and advice through a Minnesota Workers’ Compensation lawyer or through the State of Minnesota. If you wish to discuss your case, please feel free to contact the Law Office of Thomas D. Mottaz as we are experienced and knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorneys willing to meet with you at no charge.