There are a number of laws requiring employers to maintain a safe and healthy work environment for their employees. However, it is important for employees to understand that the workers compensation system is not based on claims of negligence. That is, Minnesota’s Workers Compensation laws apply whether an employer was negligent or not.
Breadth and Depth of Workers Comp Laws
There are a wide range of injuries and illnesses that are work-related, including broken bones, occupational illnesses, aggravations of pre-existing medical conditions and even mental/emotional injuries. Regardless of the type of injury or illness, workers compensation laws in Minnesota provide payments for lost wages, medical expenses, disability benefits, and, in some cases, vocational education.
Important Employee Rights
An employee, especially one dealing with a debilitating illness or injury, may find that the workers comp system seems complex at times. In any case, it is imperative that an injured employee’s rights be preserved within the system.
Here are key rights employees have when they incur a work-related illness or injury. You have a right to:
File a claim – You have a right to file a workers compensation claim for a job-related injury or illness.
See a doctor – You have a right to see a physician and to receive medical treatment for that injury or illness.
Return to work – If and when your doctor releases you to return to work you have a right to return to your job.
Disability pay – If you cannot return to work due to the injury or illness, permanently or temporarily, you have a right to pursue disability compensation.
Appeal – If and when you disagree with any decision by your employer, the employer’s workers compensation insurance company or a lower court, you typically have the right to appeal.
Legal representation – You have a right to legal representation when pursuing a workers compensation claim.
Finally, an employee has a right to decline inappropriate employer requests. For example, you have a right to refuse any employer incentive not to file a workers comp claim. You can also refuse a request to use your own health insurance rather than workers comp coverage to pay for medical treatment. You also have a legal right to pursue a workers comp claim without interference from your employer. Harassment or creating a fear of reprisal is illegal. Note that employers who interfere with a worker’s rights may face severe penalties or sanctions.
Third Party Claims
Under some circumstances, you also have a right to pursue personal injury claims against third parties. Although your employer is responsible only for workers compensation claims, there are situations in which some other party may have caused your injury or illness due to their negligence. When it is reasonable for a worker to assert that third-party negligence led to their injury or illness, it is often possible to seek compensation under the state’s personal-injury statutes.
These so-called third-party claims are unrelated to workers compensation laws and benefits. Such personal-injury claims often seek compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering. Workers compensation laws do not typically allow a worker to seek compensation for so-called non-economic damages like pain and suffering, but personal injury lawsuits do.
If you or a family member suffers an illness or injury that is job-related, it is possible to discuss the details with an attorney focused on relevant areas of workers compensation and personal injury law. Our firm provides such a consultation free of charge and without obligation. We fight hard to protect all the legal rights of our clients. To learn more about our legal services, or to schedule a consultation, please contact us.
Contact A Mankato Workers' Compensation Lawyer Today
Contact the law office of Chesley, Harvey & Carpenter today at (507) 625-3000 for a free case review. We are located in Mankato, Minnesota.