Duluth is Minnesota’s fourth-largest city and the center of the state’s second-largest metropolitan area. As the largest metropolitan area on Lake Superior, Duluth hosts a busy port that welcomes ships from the Atlantic Ocean, nearly 2,300 miles away.
Given Duluth’s bustling economy and population, workplace accidents and injuries are unfortunately common. When Duluth workers sustain an on-the-job injury, they often qualify to pursue a workers’ compensation claim, which provides benefits to injured workers to help cover the costs of their injuries.
If you sustained an injury while working in the Duluth area, you should contact the experienced Duluth Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Nicolet Law Office to schedule a free consultation, during which we can discuss the details of your accident and help you determine whether you qualify to file a workers’ compensation claim.
We Can Help Employees of Any of Duluth’s Major Employers
Duluth’s largest economic sectors include healthcare, higher education, retail, transportation, engineering, aquatic science, and tourism. Employees from a variety of industries are eligible to pursue a workers’ compensation claim when they sustain an injury while at work.
Some of the largest employers in Duluth include:
- SMDC Health System
- University of Minnesota Duluth
- Duluth Public Schools
- Allete (a.k.a. Minnesota Power)
- United Healthcare
- Duluth Air National Guard Base
- Cirrus Design
- City of Duluth
Whether you work for one of these employers or somewhere different, if you sustain an on-the-job injury, contact Nicolet Law Office to discuss your eligibility to file a workers’ compensation claim.
Our Workers’ Compensation Success Stories
At Nicolet Law Office, our legal team has experience helping injured individuals successfully pursue workers’ compensation claims different on-the-job injuries.
Some of our recent successes include:
- Winning at the hearing level on behalf of a younger man who endured multiple fusions and surgeries due to back problems stemming from his work in heavy manual labor.
- Negotiating a favorable settlement on behalf of an individual who sustained a workplace foot injury and initially had his workers’ compensation claim denied.
- Securing a $50,000 settlement on behalf of an individual who sustained a workplace back injury.
If you were injured in a Duluth workplace accident, you may qualify for wage loss compensation and other benefits, too. Read on for more information about the process.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance policy that provides benefits to individuals who have suffered a workplace illness or injury. Every state in the nation has a workers’ compensation program. While the overall mission of these programs is very similar in most states, the provisions and requirements are sometimes different. In Minnesota, all employers are required to provide a workers’ compensation policy for their employees or to become self-insured.
Approximately 22,000 workers’ compensation claims are paid each year in Minnesota for employees who acquired a work-related injury or illness.
Of these claims, 62 percent were filed by men, and more than a quarter of the claimants were over the age of 54. The most common type of injury to be the subject of a workers’ comp claim are strains, sprains, and muscle tears. The most common way for an accident to occur at a Minnesota workplace is due to a fall on the same level.
There are different types of disability claims that can result in workers’ compensation benefits, including:
- Permanent total disability: Your injury is severe enough to prevent you from ever earning a living from work again. Your wage-loss benefits will be two-thirds of the gross weekly wage you were earning at the time of your injury.
- Permanent partial disability: Your benefits will compensate you for the permanent use of a body part that does not render you completely disabled. Benefits for permanent partial disability in Duluth are often paid in a lump sum.
- Temporary total disability: These benefits are paid if you cannot work while your injury heals. You may receive two-thirds of your gross weekly pay at the time of your injury, with minimum and maximum limits established by law. The number of weeks you may receive temporary total disability benefits varies according to the type and severity of your injury.
- Temporary partial disability: If your injury requires you to perform different job-related tasks that do not allow you to earn in the same capacity as you did before the injury, temporary partial disability will provide two-thirds of the difference between what you were earning before your injury and what you are earning now.
There are also different types of benefits available for the spouse, children, and other relatives of an employee who died as the result of a workplace injury or illness, as well as annual cost-of-living adjustments that can increase the amount of compensation you receive.
The types of injuries that are covered by workers’ compensation include any condition that is caused, aggravated, or accelerated by your employment activities, including traumatic injuries, injuries that occur gradually such as those caused by repetitive motion, and occupational diseases.
The Benefits Available Through Workers’ Compensation
Minnesota’s workers’ compensation program provides benefits such as:
- Medical care related to the injury, as long as it is reasonable and necessary.
- Income loss benefits that will replace a portion of the wages you have lost due to being too injured to work or having to miss work to attend an injury-related medical appointment.
- Income loss compensation for life if your injury results in permanent total disability.
- Benefits to your family members if you die as the result of a workplace injury or illness.
- Vocational rehabilitation services if you can no longer perform the tasks required for the position you held at work when the injury or illness occurred.
- Travel and mileage reimbursement if you must travel for injury-related medical treatments or vocational rehabilitation.
These benefits are either paid by the insurance company that carries your employer’s workers’ compensation policy or by the employer if he or she is self-insured. In Minnesota, wage loss benefits are only available after the employee has missed at least three consecutive days of work. After the tenth day of missing work because of the injury, the worker can be compensated for the original three days as well.
How to Obtain Workers’ Compensation in Duluth
If you suffer a job-related illness or injury and need to file a workers’ compensation claim, follow these steps:
- Report your injury to your employer immediately. While you technically have some time to file this report, if you fail to report the injury within the statutory timeframe for doing so, you will lose your right to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. It is best to make your report as soon as possible to begin creating an accurate paper trail of when the injury occurred and what steps were taken. Note: You should report any workplace injury to your employer, even if it is minor and you don’t think that it needs medical attention.
- Your employer will be required to complete a First Report of Injury form and to report the injury to his or her insurance provider within 10 days of knowledge of the injury. Additionally, if your injury results in more than three days of lost-time, you must submit a copy of the First Report of Injury to the state Department of Labor and Industry.
- Seek medical treatment, if necessary. If you are seeking treatment, be sure to inform your health care provider that the injury is work-related. He or she will need to know how and when the injury occurred, as well as why you feel the injury is work-related. You will also need to provide your doctor with the name and contact information of your employer, as well as for your employer’s insurance provider.
- Your doctor will complete a Report of Work Ability form that details the physical limitations that you have as a result of your work-related injury.
- After you have filed your claim, your employer will conduct an investigation to ensure that you did, in fact, suffer a work-related injury and will report his or her findings to the insurance provider.
- During the investigation of your claim, the employer’s insurance provider can also request that you undergo an Independent Medical Evaluation (IME). This is an evaluation performed by a doctor of the employer or insurer’s choice, who is not already involved in the patient’s care. The purpose of this examination is to obtain a second opinion on the injury and the individual’s inability to perform job-related tasks. This is not an optional step. The insurer must work with you to set up a reasonable time for this evaluation and must also pay for the exam and other costs, such as travel, that you incur due to the request. If you fail to show up for the evaluation, however, you risk a claim denial.
- If your claim is approved, your employer’s insurance provider must submit an official Notice of Insurer’s Primary Liability Determination stating that and begin paying your wage-loss benefits within 14 days after the day you initially informed your employer of the injury.
Call us for help completing those steps. They’re far easier said than done, and little mistakes can result in unnecessary delays, denials, or reductions of the benefits you deserve and need to pay for your injuries.
Frequently Asked Questions about Duluth Workers’ Compensation
Are you feeling confused by the workers’ compensation process? Rest assured, that is not an uncommon feeling for those filing a claim for benefits. Here are some answers to the questions our Duluth clients often ask us about workers’ compensation benefits.
I injured my back at work. Will workers’ compensation pay for me to be seen by a chiropractor?
Many states do not allow individuals to seek chiropractic treatment through workers’ compensation. Minnesota does allow it, however, and many people who suffer injuries that can be improved through chiropractic adjustments prefer to seek that treatment as opposed to pharmaceutical treatments or invasive procedures.
I was exposed to a chemical at work for years that caused cancer. Can I file a Duluth workers’ comp claim?
Perhaps. Cancer is a prevalent disease even without chemical exposure in the workplace, however, which makes this type of claim particularly complex. Some cancers can have a latency period of years or even decades between exposure and diagnosis. You need to discuss the chemical exposure at your work with your doctor and your lawyer, including how long and how often the exposure occurred, and how likely he or she feels that your workplace exposure was the cause of your cancer.
Can I choose my own doctor to treat my Duluth work-related injury?
Yes. In Minnesota, injured workers are permitted to seek treatment from the physician of their choice as long as the doctor is licensed and not a practitioner of alternative medicine whose treatments have not been ordered by a licensed doctor.
Once a physician treats an injured worker two times, he or she is considered that worker’s treating physician. Within the first 60 days of the claim, an employee has the right to change physicians without having to inform the insurer. After that time, if you want to change doctors, you must obtain approval from the insurer or show loss of faith in the physician’s skill, lack of medical improvement, or a communication breakdown.
How is my average weekly income calculated for workers’ compensation benefits in Duluth?
To calculate your weekly wage, you would take the amount you earned for the entire year before your injury and divide it by 52.
I am an independent contractor, not an employee, but was injured at my place of work. Can I file a Duluth workers’ compensation claim?
Likely not, unless you operate as your own business and have purchased a workers’ compensation policy for yourself or those you employ. The person or company you provide contracted services for is only required to purchase a workers’ compensation policy for his or her employees.
What happens if my Duluth workers’ compensation claim is denied?
If your claim is denied, the insurance provider will submit a Notice of Primary Liability Consideration. This form contains three boxes, and the first one is checked if your claim is approved. If the second box is checked, it means that your claim was approved but you will not be receiving wage loss benefits. If the third box is checked, it means that your claim was denied and there will be an explanation provided as to why. Insurance carriers must inform their insureds any time they deny a claim and furnish a rationale for the denial.
If you have been denied workers’ comp benefits or your benefits suddenly stopped without explanation, you can petition for an administrative hearing with the Department of Labor and Industry. At this point, if you have not already done so, it is time to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer who can provide guidance and representation through the appeals process.
Do I need your attorneys to help with my Duluth workers’ compensation claim?
Yes. Problems frequently arise when filing a workers’ comp claim, and having our Duluth worker’s compensation attorneys can help you in those situations. Our advocates have a deep knowledge of and experience with workers’ compensation claims.
We can especially help when:
- Your employer is disputing your claim.
- Your employer’s insurance company denied your claim and you would like to appeal the decision.
- You feel as though your employer is pressuring you to return to work tasks that you are not physically ready to handle.
- Your loved one died because of a work-related accident and you would like to obtain benefits.
- You don’t know what information you need to provide to prove your claim.
- You have experienced an unexplained delay in receiving your workers’ comp payments.
- You believe that your employer fired you in retaliation for filing your claim.
Let our experienced Duluth workers’ compensation lawyers help you make sense of the process of obtaining your workers’ compensation benefits. For a free case evaluation, contact us online or by calling (218) 729-0628.
306 West Superior Street, Suite 606
Duluth, MN 55802