Number And Value Of Minneapolis Workers’ Compensation Claims Plummets
Over the last twenty years, the number of paid workers’ compensation claims has dropped 54 percent. Furthermore, when compared with wage growth, the average amount of claims declined 40 percent over that same time period. At the same time, workers’ compensation insurance premiums have declined by over 50 percent.
These Minnesota statistics are part of a nationwide trend. Over the past several decades, a series of business-friendly court decisions have seriously eroded the job injury benefits that are available to victims. This trend is starting to change in a few states, most notably Florida. But based on the most recent statistics, the wave of reform has not washed ashore in Minnesota.
Covered Expenses in Minnesota
In the “Grand Bargain” of the early 1900s, workers gave up their rights to court claims in exchange for a system of no-fault insurance. Minnesota employers promised to set up a system which would provide fair compensation for:
- Lost Wages: Typically, workers’ compensation insurance pays two-thirds of a victim’s average weekly wage for the duration of the disability. This money gives Minneapolis families the income they need to cover routine living expenses until the victim can get back to work.
- Medical Expenses: In addition to hospital emergency care, workers’ compensation benefits also pay for follow-up medical care, medical devices, physical rehabilitation, and other reasonably necessary medical expenses. Generally, injured workers in Minnesota have the right to choose their own doctors.
This money is available for both trauma injuries, like falls, and occupational diseases, like toxic exposure.
Some Workers’ Compensation Defenses in Minneapolis
While these benefits are available, the insurance company does not simply give them away, as the above-quoted statistics indicate. In fact, the insurance company has a posse of lawyers whose sole mission is to deny fair compensation to victims.
In most cases, the insurance company cannot use the contributory negligence defense. This doctrine, which shifts fault from the tortfeasor (negligent actor) to the victim, may be the most commonly used insurance company defense. But these lawyers still have other items in their Bag of Tricks. Some common ones include:
- Pre-Existing Condition: Insurance company lawyers often claim that the injury was not work-related. For example, if a victim develops work-related knee problems, the insurance company may claim that the victim already had a bad knee. But even if that is the case, Minnesota workers’ compensation law employs a variation of the eggshell skull rule. If the job injury was a substantial contributing factor to the overall injury, the entire injury is compensable.
- Unreasonable Expenses: This defense is especially common in head injury cases. To combat brain injuries, some doctors employ innovative tactics. Lawyers often challenge these expenses as unreasonable or frivolous. But very often, the proof is in the pudding. If the victim got better, the expense was arguably reasonable and necessary.
Typically, Minneapolis insurance company lawyers have the burden of proof with regard to these and other defenses.
Reach Out to a Tenacious Attorney
Workers’ compensation benefits are available, but you need an aggressive attorney to get a fair-sized piece of a shrinking pie. 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 job injury cases.