Friday, September 30, 2016

Join Us for the Second Annual Firefighters for Healing Red Tie Gala

You won’t want to miss this second annual fundraising event! Ron Meuser is a proud board member of Firefighters for Healing and is honored that once again Meuser Law Office, P.A. will be among the sponsors for the annual Red Tie Gala. Get your tickets today!

MUSE Event Center
Minneapolis
Saturday, Nov 12, 2016
7:00 - 8:00pm  Social hour, entertainment, hors d'oeuvres, cash bar, silent auction

8:00 - 9:00pm Event program, special guests, live auction
9:30pm Silent Auction Ends
9:00 - 11:00pm Live music & entertainment

We highly suggest gentlemen come in a suit or tuxedo with a Red Tie or Red Bow Tie. Ladies are encouraged to wear a red or red accented cocktail dress or gown.



Firefighters for Healing was founded by a former Minneapolis firefighter, Jake LaFerriere, in 2010 after he suffered third and fourth degree burns as a result of a backdraft explosion. While in recovery, he met several children in the burn unit, each undergoing painful treatments for their injuries. This inspired him to create Firefighters for Healing, a non-profit organization that provides financial and emotional support to children who are survivors of severe burns. Meuser Law Office, P.A. was with Jake every step of the way, making sure he received all of the benefits and compensation he deserved through his recovery and supporting his new mission.

Meet Jake LaFerriere and hear more of his story by watching this short video:



Join us while we raise funds to continue the efforts of Firefighters for Healing to help burn survivors in their recovery process. With donor help they are able to replace some of the essential daily living necessities when all is lost in a fire, provide financial assistance for surgeries, offer summer camp participation to young people, donate to the burn unit of local hospitals, and much more. Take a moment to watch this video to see how your donations are touching the lives of people suffering from burn injuries and making a big difference:



We are honored to call Jake LaFerrier and the folks at Firefighters for Healing our friends. Meuser Law Office, P.A. is proud to sponsor their annual event and help them continue the fight after the fire is out by attending the 2nd Annual Firefighters for Healing Red Tie Gala. Be a part of something great – help this amazing foundation continue their mission to support burn survivors and their family. Funds raised through the sale of tickets to the Red Tie Gala, along with funds raised via the live and silent auctions at the event will go to children and other burn survivors to aid in their recovery in so many ways. Visit firefightersforhealing.org for more information on this wonderful organization.

Don’t miss out on what will be a REDiculously fun night for an incREDibly amazing cause! Get your tickets today! You can find more event details and order tickets here.

Ron Meuserby Ron Meuser
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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ron Meuser and Jen Yackley Speak at The Law Enforcement Labor Services (LELS) Meeting

Recently, Ron Meuser and Jen Yackley of Meuser Law Office, P.A. were proud and honored to speak at the Minnesota Law Enforcement and Labor Services (LELS) monthly meeting in August, 2016 held in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Founded in 1977, Law Enforcement Labor Services, Inc. is Minnesota’s largest law enforcement labor union specializing in representing law enforcement personnel. The mission of Law Enforcement Labor Services is to represent the interests and priorities of its members. LELS provides professional representation and advocates for its members in areas such as:

Legal matters
Competitive pay and benefits
Negotiating safer working conditions

Ron and Jen met with the LELS business agents as well as their legal department and spoke about the complex issues Minnesota’s Peace Officers face when they are dealing with an injury sustained in the line of duty. Topics included the types of benefits available to our state’s first responders who are injured in the line of duty, including workers’ compensation, PERA Police and Fire Duty Disability, Continuation of Health Insurance Benefits Minn. Stat § 299A.465, as well as special situations like third-party claims in the case of on-duty motor vehicle accidents. Ron and Jen also presented information regarding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and law enforcement, including the new workers’ compensation rules that govern PTSD claims, as well as complex coordination rules that apply specifically to Minnesota’s peace officers who receive Duty Disability and workers’ compensation benefits.  Ron and Jen also fielded many great questions from the attendees regarding the coordination of benefits, timing of filing for benefits and PTSD claims.

Meuser Law Office, P.A. is one of the few workers’ compensation law firms in the state of Minnesota that also handles PERA and MSRS disability claims. We’ve successfully represented hundreds of the state’s first responders for both workers’ compensation and PERA/MSRS disability claims. Sitting down with us to learn more about your potential claim is a lot like financial planning. We can explain what rights you have and make recommendations to you in terms of how to best protect your rights to those benefits. The knowledgeable attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. can help the often complex process easier to navigate. Contact us today for a free no-obligation consultation by calling
1-877-746-5680.

Ron Meuserby Ron Meuser
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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Rehabilitation Services After Employee Separates Due to PERA Duty Disability

Employers and insurers must provide rehabilitation services to qualified employees, even after an employee separates or resigns from his or her date of injury employer due to his or her Duty Disability. A member approved for PERA Duty Disability benefits must separate from his or her position in order to begin receiving pension disability benefits. An employee may not continue working in a position covered by PERA under the Police and Fire Plan.
The member may work in a different capacity—and is in fact encouraged to do so under the PERA Duty Disability pension plan. A member who is not working is capped at 100% of his or her “high five earnings” between work comp benefits and PERA Duty Disability benefits. But, a member who is working in a different position may earn up to 125% of his or her “high five earnings” among work comp, PERA benefits, and the new wages. After reaching the 125% threshold, the PERA benefits are offset one for every three dollars over 125% of the “high five earnings.”

“Voluntary” resignation is not a defense to rehabilitation services, including job placement services. The case law remains clear on this issue. In Erickson v. City of St. Paul, the Court determined that “whether an employee is employed, voluntarily terminates his employment, retires, or relocates does not terminate his or her entitlement to rehabilitation services.” slip. op. (W.C.C.A. April 16, 2007). Resignation from a light duty position with the date of injury employer is not a bar to rehabilitation and retraining benefits. Id. Under Lees v. G. & S. Roofing, Inc. an employee may even refuse a job offer and remain entitled to rehabilitation services. (W.C.C.A. June 9, 1999).

An injured worker is not held captive to his or her employer in order to retain his entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits. An employee may accept an early retirement incentive from his employer while still being able to physically perform his job within his restrictions based on his work injury at the time of retirement. Boutto v. U.S. Steel Corp. slip op. (WCCA July 18, 2007).

Additionally, a member who separates in order to begin receiving Duty Disability benefits is not retiring. Therefore, “retirement” is not a defense to rehabilitation services. An injured worker who resigns based on his or her Duty Disability is not withdrawing from the labor market. Rather, the employee is separating based on his or her disability incurred in the course and scope of his or her employment.

Unfortunately, even though the law is settled on this issue occasionally insurers and public employers will still contest the employee’s right to receive rehabilitation services after separating due to a PERA Duty Disability. Insurers and employers look for any opportunity to avoid paying for rehabilitation services. The insurer may refuse to pay for job placement services or file a Rehabilitation Request with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry to terminate rehabilitation services with a QRC or qualified rehabilitation consultant. Your attorney should either file a Rehabilitation Request to initiate job placement services or a Rehabilitation Response to the insurer’s request for termination of rehabilitation services. The matter will be heard in front of a mediator for the Department of Labor and Industry and then either party may appeal the decision and the matter will then be heard in front of a Workers’ Compensation Judge at the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Meuser Law Office, P.A. is one of the few workers’ compensation law firms in the state of Minnesota that also handles PERA and MSRS disability claims. We’ve successfully represented hundreds of State Patrol, police officers and firefighters throughout the state for both workers’ compensation and PERA/MSRS disability claims. If you believe that your employer has miscalculated your wage loss benefits or simply want to double check, contact an attorney at Meuser Law Office, P.A. for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle Minnesota workers’ compensation cases on a daily basis and are very familiar with the most current laws and calculations to determine your average wage. We will ensure you receive the full benefits you are entitled.
Call us today at 1-877-746-5680.

Mary Beth Boyceby Mary Beth
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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Benefits 101

What is permanent partial disability (PPD)?

Permanent partial disability benefit, or PPD, is a benefit in the Minnesota workers’ compensation system used to compensate an injured worker for the permanent impairment or the loss of use or function of a body part due to a work injury.

Who determines PPD?

Your treating physician or the independent medical examiner for the insurance company will issue a PPD rating under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act.

When is PPD determined?

Once an injured worker reaches “maximum medical improvement” or MMI as deemed by his or her treating physician, the physician will issue a PPD rating. MMI is the point at which the injured worker’s condition is not expected to dramatically improve or decline. MMI is generally determined when the injured worker has reached a plateau in his or her medical treatment.

Insurance companies or your attorney may send your treating a physician a “healthcare provider report” or HCPR. The healthcare provider will then issue a rating as applicable to your condition under the statute.

An insurer may also send you to an independent medical exam or IME. The IME doctor may then issue a PPD rating in his or her IME report. Or your attorney may ask your doctor to issue a rating when he or she sends your health care provider a narrative request wherein he or she may opine more extensively as to the nature and extent of your condition.

How are PPD ratings determined?

PPD ratings are determined based on the health care provider’s rating in addition to the date of injury.

For injuries before 1984, PPD ratings were issued to each body part and then multiplied by a specific number of weeks and the injured worker’s weekly compensation rate. If a worker injured more than one body part, the amount owed was increased by 15%. Insurers generally paid this benefit in a lump sum.

For injuries after 1984, PPD ratings are assigned as a percent of a disability to the body as a whole. The rules that govern the rating are referred to as the PPD schedule. The total percentage rating is multiplied by a specific dollar amount to determine the monetary benefits payable. Physicians refer to the PPD schedule under Minnesota Rules Parts 5223.0300 - 5223.0650 for injuries after July 1, 1993.

When is PPD paid?

PPD may be paid in a lump sum or may be paid out as a weekly benefit. If PPD is paid out in a lump sum the amount owed is reduced slightly by a present value calculation. PPD may be paid concurrently with temporary partial disability benefits and permanent total disability benefits but not with temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. Frequently, it is in the employee’s best interest to wait on pursuing a PPD rating until the employee has exhausted his or her temporary total disability benefits. An employee’s TTD benefits cease 90 days after being deemed to have reached MMI or maximum medical improvement and by definition if a physician issues a PPD rating the employee is determined to have reached MMI.

Why are PPD benefits so low?

Permanent partial disability is not meant to replace pain and suffering damages. PPD benefits are tied to the legislature’s interpretation of how an injured worker’s permanent impairment will affect his or her future ability to work. For example, if an employee completely loses his or her ability to taste or smell, under Minnesota Rules 5223.0360, Subpart 3 A and B, he or she is only entitled to a 1% rating or under the current schedule or $750 (.01 (x) $75,000).

Moreover, PPD benefits have not been adjusted for inflation in years, unlike many other work comp benefits in the State of Minnesota.

If you have questions about a PPD rating or believe that you have been underpaid by the insurance company, contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. right away. Don’t wait to get an attorney involved if you have a Minnesota workers’ compensation claim. The process can be complex and you want to be sure you receive the full benefits you are entitled. Contact Meuser Law Office, P.A. for a free no-obligation consultation and claim evaluation. At Meuser Law Office, P.A. we keep our clients informed of the process as well as what to expect each step of the way. Call us today at 1-877-746-5680.

Mary Beth Boyceby Mary Beth
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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

MN Work Comp Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Benefits

Permanent partial disability (PPD) is a Minnesota workers’ compensation benefit that is payable for the permanent functional loss of use of a body part due to a work-related injury.
Once you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), if you have a permanent injury, your doctor may assign you a permanent partial disability rating.

Your doctor will refer to the permanent partial disability guidelines developed by the Department of Labor and Industry, under Chapter 5223 of the administrative rules. The percentage rating you are assigned is then multiplied by a dollar figure set by the Minnesota Legislature to determine the amount of your permanent partial disability benefit. For example, if you’ve sustained a herniated disc in your lumbar spine, and you’ve been assigned a 10% permanent partial disability rating, the benefit owed to you would be $8,000.00.

Permanent partial disability benefits are payable on the same schedule that you have received temporary total disability (TTD) wage loss benefits, or at the same time that you receive temporary partial disability (TPD) wage loss benefits. You also have the right to request that the permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits be paid as a single lump sum payment. Note that if you request a single lump sum payment of your PPD benefit, the workers’ compensation insurer can take a present value discount of up to 5% of the lump sum. For example, if you’ve been assigned a 10% PPD rating, your PPD benefit would be $8,000.00. If your weekly temporary total disability (TTD) benefit was $800.00 per week, the insurer will pay your PPD benefit weekly at a rate of $800.00 per week for 10 weeks until your PPD benefit has been paid in full. Alternatively, you can request that the $8,000.00 be paid in a single lump sum.

If there is no dispute as to the amount of your permanent partial disability benefit, the insurer should make the lump sum payment or begin making periodic payments as soon as your temporary total disability benefits cease, and as soon as the rating is determined. If there is a dispute regarding the amount of the PPD benefits you’re owed, the insurer is still supposed to pay at least a minimum lump sum payment or begin making periodic payments, at least to the extent that your benefit is undisputed. For example, if your own doctor assigned you a PPD rating of 10%, but the workers’ compensation insurance company takes the position that your PPD rating should only be 6%, they should begin paying the undisputed portion of your benefit – the 6%, while you proceed through the dispute process to establish your entitlement to the additional permanent partial disability benefit. This doesn’t always happen in practice, though. If there is a dispute regarding the amount you are owed for PPD, it is not uncommon for the insurer to refuse to pay anything, even though they acknowledge that they owe you at least something. A Minnesota workers' compensation attorney can assist you with getting a settlement of the PPD benefits you are owed.

Disputes regarding Minnesota workers’ compensation permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits are common. For example, some issues that commonly arise regarding PPD benefits include the following:

  • Your doctor never assigns a permanent partial disability rating, and the insurer never seeks to obtain a rating, even though your injury obviously warrants the payment of PPD benefits.
  • You are assigned a rating, but the insurer simply “forgets” to make payment.
  • The insurer argues that your condition is partially due to a pre-existing condition, and reduces or refuses to pay the full amount of the PPD rating assigned to you.
  • Your doctor assigns a rating, and the insurer takes the position that the rating should be lower.
  • Your doctor assigns a rating, and the insurance company doctor (IME) assigns a different rating. The insurer will almost always pay the lower of the two ratings.
  • The insurer argues that your doctor assigned you the wrong rating under the schedules.
  • The insurer may dispute the precise diagnosis, and therefore, which PPD schedule applies to your condition.
  • If you have PPD ratings for multiple body parts injured as a result of the same work-related injury, the insurer may improperly combine the ratings, resulting in an overall lower PPD rating.
  • If you have a condition that is due to a combination of more than one work-related injury, there may be a dispute between two or more insurance companies as to which one is responsible for paying the benefit.

We regularly review the files of injured workers who don’t think they are owed any additional workers’ compensation benefits, only to discover that the workers’ compensation insurer either failed to pay PPD benefits, or underpaid those benefits.

If you have a permanent injury contact Meuser Law Office, P.A. at 1-877-746-5680 for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. Meuser Law Office, P.A. is one of the few workers’ compensation law firms in the state of Minnesota that also handles PERA and MSRS disability claims. We’ve successfully represented hundreds of State Patrol, police officers and firefighters with permanent injuries throughout the state for both workers’ compensation and PERA/MSRS disability claims. Sitting down with us for a consultation to learn more about your potential claims is a lot like financial planning. We can explain what rights you have and make recommendations to you in terms of how to best protect your rights to those benefits. The knowledgeable attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. can help make the process easier to navigate. Contact us today at 1-877-746-5680.

Jennifer Yackleyby Jen Yackley
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Monday, August 15, 2016

Meet Mary Beth Boyce

My name is Mary Beth Boyce, I am an attorney at Meuser Law Office, P.A. and I practice in workers’ compensation, PERA/MSRS Duty Disability benefits and personal injury. I have been practicing at Meuser Law Office since 2013. I attended Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska for my undergraduate and then I went to the University of St. Thomas for law school.



I really enjoy practicing work comp and PERA as well as personal injury, I especially enjoy representing police officers and firefighters. One of my grandfathers was a firefighter for the city of Chicago, and my other grandfather was a police officer for the city of Chicago. It’s funny thinking back to all their stories of being injured on the job and what I know now about work comp and pensions in the state of Minnesota that their stories just have a different meaning for me. I think they would have like to have known that I have represented a lot of police officers and firefighters in my career.

Contact Meuser Law Office, P.A. for a free, no-obligation case evaluation and consultation. The knowledgeable attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. take the time with each client to help determine which benefits under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act you are entitled as well as discuss PERA/MSRS Duty Disability benefits and Healthcare Continuation benefits under Minnesota Statute §299A.465. Call us today at 1-877-746-5680.

Mary Beth Boyceby Mary Beth
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Thursday, August 4, 2016

I Am a Firefighter with Cancer. Am I Covered Under Workers' Compensation?

The Minnesota Workers' Compensation Act provides financial relief to employees who are injured during the course and scope of their employment. But not all work injuries are what we define in workers' compensation law as “specific injuries”. These are obvious injuries that occur on the job, such as a piano dropping on your foot. A worker who suffers from an occupational disease or a chronic illness arising out of his or her employment is also protected under the Minnesota Worker's Compensation Act.

At Meuser Law Office, P.A., we have represented workers who have developed occupational diseases as a result of their work-related exposures. These clients have included firefighters who developed cancer because of the hazards that they faced. Significant evidence indicates that firefighters have 2 times the incidence for brain cancer, 2 times the incidence for liver cancer, 2.8 times the incidence for colon and rectal cancer, 2.5 to 3 times the incidence for bladder cancer, a higher incidence for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and a higher incidence for urinary cancer. In fact, many fire departments are recognizing these dangers and are taking steps to prevent more firefighters from developing cancer. For example, stricter procedures for washing out gear, better ventilation in the garage where the trucks are parked, and a push for awareness in the community.

Firefighters are regularly exposed to a variety of dangerous carcinogens and chemicals. The Minnesota legislature recognizes these heightened dangers are specific to firefighters and put in place additional laws for firefighters under Minnesota Statute 176.011 Subd. 15 (c), which states in relevant part:

"A firefighter on active duty with an organized fire department who is unable to perform duties in the department by reason of a disabling cancer caused by exposure to heat, radiation, or a known or suspected carcinogen, as defined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the carcinogen is reasonably linked to the disabling cancer, is presumed to have an occupational disease."

This statute means that if a firefighter develops a type of cancer caused by a carcinogen to which firefighters are regularly exposed then the disease is presumed to have arisen out of the employment. This statute shifts the burden of proof to the employer to prove the cancer is not causally related. Usually in workers’ compensation, the injured worker has the “burden of proof” to demonstrate under the standard, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the injury is causally linked to the work activities.

Now, other issues can arise in this type of claim. Many times, firefighters don’t even know that they even have a workers’ compensation claim and years can pass. With this type of a workers’ compensation claim you must put your employer on notice that you have suffered an occupational disease within a certain time period.

At Meuser Law Office, P.A. we, unfortunately, have handled many cases of firefighters with cancer. If this is affecting you or someone in your family, contact attorneys who have experience representing clients with this type of workers’ compensation claim. In addition, you may also be eligible for a PERA Duty Disability claim as well as a Health Care Continuation benefits claim. Our attorneys would make sure you receive the full benefit you are due.

Contact Meuser Law Office, P.A. at 1-877-746-5680 for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your claim.

Mary Beth Boyceby Mary Beth
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