Consider this scenario, an injury has left you unable to work. It happened at the end of your shift, and, although in pain, you completed the remainder of your tasks. After you returned home, the pain grew worse, and by that night, your spouse drove you to the local hospital’s emergency care facility.
Naturally, you worry. You understand that you cannot work until your injury heals, but you wonder about your job and what you should do. Filing for workers’ compensation benefits is now a necessity. However, you have questions and concerns related to pursuing this option. Will your employer punish you? Will your employer believe you? Rumors from co-workers whiz through your head. You wonder what to believe.
In reality workers’ compensation claims are much more straightforward than many believe. First, employers cannot intentionally retaliate against you for bringing a claim and asserting your rights. Second, most workers’ compensation claims are handled and paid for by the employer’s insurer. The worst thing an employee can do to themselves is ignore their rights and fail to give their employer notice of their injury.
Benefits cover more than medical expenses
The Minnesota workers’ compensation system functions best when injured workers report injuries and immediately seek workers’ compensation benefits when injured on the job. If injured, you likely will qualify for these needed benefits which will likely be paid by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. Nevertheless, certain misconceptions about workers’ compensation can cause injured employees to worry or hesitate in asserting their claims. Let’s discuss some of those misconceptions:
- Workers’ compensation only covers medical expenses. This is untrue. If you are missing work because of an on-the-job injury, you will likely be entitled to wage loss benefits, and potentially a whole host of other benefits depending on the extent of your disability and your physical needs.
- The injury had to take place at your worksite. Wrong. If you are working in the course and scope of your job and get injured off-site, you may qualify for workers’ compensation. This may include participating in a work-related retreat, meeting with clients at off-site locations or during business trips. Truck drivers, pizza delivery and package delivery drivers also may qualify for benefits after a motor vehicle accident or even a dog bite. You may have both a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim arising out of the same incident, and it’s wise to have a lawyer who is skilled in handling both claims in unison (like the attorneys at Lindell & Lavoie) to maximize your total recovery.
- The injury must have occurred while you performed your job. Not true. The connection between your work duties and your injury can seem remote, like walking to your car or assisting a co-worker, but you may still be entitled as an injured employee to workers’ compensation benefits.
- An employer can intentionally punish you for bringing a claim. The law prohibits intentional retaliation against employees for asserting a workers’ compensation claim and such acts can result in serious additional legal liability of the employer to the employee. While an employer may replace an employee who can no longer do their job because of physical restrictions, doing so often subjects the employer/insurer to increased workers’ compensation liability, and it’s usually in everyone’s best interest to get an injured worker back to work with their employer. However, employees who do not report their injuries or assert their workers’ compensation claims may lose their rights under the law. The system is designed and works best when employees let their employers know immediately when they know they have been injured on the job.
Do not be intimidated by what you don’t know. The lawyers at Lindell & Lavoie have years of experience in explaining and advising employees as to the truth of the workers’ compensation system and an injured person’s rights. You can get this information for free by just calling them, and they will let you know whether you need a lawyer or not. Either way, they will answer your questions and dispel all the myths so that you will feel comfortable asserting your rights as the system expects.