Minnesota Workers’ Comp Claims Drop By Half
By a percentage of payroll, workers’ compensation insurance companies paid far fewer claims in 2016 than they paid in 1996, according to a recent report. What can an attorney do to level the playing field?
Benefits per claim are down as well. The replacement wage benefit has dropped 40 percent over the last twenty years. Medical benefits are down 30 percent over the same period. These overall numbers are down even though benefits grew significantly between about 1996 and 2008. While the news was not so good for injured workers, there was plenty of good news for employers. Premiums are down 51 percent since 1996, and attorneys’ fees make up only 3 percent of system costs.
The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry prepared the report.
The Benefits Available in Minneapolis
When it was first conceived in the early 1900s, workers’ compensation was a fair tradeoff between workers and management. Injured workers gave up their right to sue in court, and management provided a no-fault insurance system.
But recently, falling workers’ compensation insurance premiums in places like Minnesota have dramatically reduced the amount of money in the system. Yet unemployment recently reached an 18-year low, so there are many more workers than before. Simply put, there is less money to pay more claims. As a result, injured victims need aggressive counsel to claim a fair-sized piece of a shrinking financial pie. That pie includes money for:
- Lost Wages: If the victim has a temporary disability, workers’ compensation usually pays two-thirds of the victim’s average weekly wage for the duration of that disability. If the victim has a permanent disability, alternative compensation is available, including a lump-sum payment.
- Medical Bills: Workers’ compensation pays all reasonably necessary medical bills. That includes not only emergency care but also follow-up treatment, physical therapy, medical devices, prescription drugs, and any other necessary costs.
In some cases, job injury victims may sue outside the system and obtain additional compensation for their noneconomic damages. Workers’ compensation is not the exclusive remedy if the employer acted recklessly, the job injury involved a defective product, or another exception applies.
The Workers’ Compensation System in Minnesota
At the same time benefits have dropped, the system has become much more bloated. It’s almost impossible to navigate without an experienced lawyer.
Very strict time deadlines apply in workers’ compensation cases. These deadlines are usually not a problem if the victim sustains a trauma injury, like a fall. But if the victim suffers from an occupational disease, like back pain, these deadlines are often an issue. Most people do not run to a doctor the moment they feel twinges in their backs. They almost certainly do not connect this back pain with their jobs, especially if they have pre-existing conditions. A lawyer can help sort out these questions.
Later, at a workers’ compensation hearing, an attorney can present evidence, challenge evidence, and make legal arguments. So, injured victims have a much greater chance of obtaining fair compensation.
Connect With an Assertive Attorney
Job injury victims may be eligible for significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Minnesota, contact the Gunther Law Office. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.