Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What Should I Expect From My Work Comp Lawyer?

At Meuser Law Office, P.A. we pride ourselves in the work we do and the commitment we make to our clients. We are one of the few workers’compensation law firms in the state of Minnesota that also handles PERA and MSRS disability claims. Our attorneys are experienced in these areas of law and have successfully represented thousands of clients, including State Patrol, police officers and firefighters throughout the state for both workers’ compensation and PERA/MSRS disability claims.

When choosing an attorney to represent you, you should expect a free consultation. Work comp attorneys in the state of Minnesota are paid on a contingency fee basis, which means you will not be charged unless the attorney recovers benefits or monies on your behalf. All work comp attorneys are paid the same in the state of Minnesota pursuant to statute. Typically, you will meet in-person with an attorney before you make a hiring decision. Good attorneys spend an hour with potential clients in-person gathering information about the client’s potential case, explaining the law and providing recommendations for your case. If you are meeting only with a paralegal instead of an attorney, you should consider this a red flag and request to meet with a lawyer. Sometimes it’s not possible to meet face-to-face due to distance or work schedules so in that case, it’s appropriate to schedule a telephone consultation with the attorney.

Once the attorney has been hired, there are some basic things you should expect from your attorney going forward, such as:     
  • Client should expect an honest assessment and valuation of the case. It doesn’t help you if your attorney doesn’t tell you both the good and the bad parts of your case. All cases have “warts.”
  • Return phone calls and emails in a reasonable amount of time. At times it may be best to schedule a telephone call with your attorney for a status update through an office paralegal.
  • All communication to the insurance company’s adjuster and/or insurer’s attorney should go through your attorney’s office. Your attorney is the main point of contact for your case.

As the case gets underway, the client should expect to receive copies of work done on his or her behalf by their attorney, including correspondence to opposing counsel, claim petitions, and any paperwork sent to the court. Various phases of the case, including independent medical examination (IME), settlement conferences, formal hearings, and depositions will happen throughout the work comp case. The client can expect to be notified of these litigation events in advance and should know what to expect at each step of the way so there is no confusion. Other examples of what a client should expect from an attorney may be:
  • Prior to a mediation or settlement conference his or her attorney will create a demand letter that will outline the monetary claim for benefits. This demand letter must be approved by the client before being sent to the attorney for the insurer and employer.
  • If a client will be consulting with a qualified rehabilitation consultant (QRC) during their case, when appropriate, your attorney should choose and recommend a QRC, send job logs to help track your job search, and mileage logs for reimbursement.
  • Your attorney should never settle your case without your permission. You will be involved in the negotiation process and likewise you will not try to settle your case on your own without your lawyer. Your lawyer will give his or her recommendation but to settle or not to settle is your decision alone. 

Clients should expect that attorneys limit their practice to one or two areas of law. An attorney who deals with criminal law, including DUI cases and restraining orders, is not going to be up to date on the complex workers’ compensation and personal injury areas of law. You want an attorney that is experienced in this particular type of law. Even though all workers’ compensation attorneys are paid the same in the State of Minnesota, all work comp attorneys are not equal. Why choose an inexperienced or less knowledge attorney when you can choose a team of experienced attorneys who practice exclusively in the area of work comp and personal injury for the same amount of money. If clients want to change attorneys at any time of their case, he or she is not charged extra for a change of attorney.

At the very least a client should expect a team of knowledgeable attorneys who will work together on your case and bounce ideas off each other. This type of approach will benefit the client the most. 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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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Amazon Warehouse Injury Work Comp Claims

Amazon is a powerhouse company that was first known as “the world’s biggest bookstore.” It has since been given the title of America’s largest retailer (online or off) employing nearly 240,000 people worldwide. Therefore, it is not surprising that Amazon has become a large employer in Minnesota since opening a fulfillment center in Shakopee. The Amazon fulfillment center in Shakopee, Minnesota is a giant warehousing and shipping facility, which will employ upwards of 1,000 workers. This is great news in terms of local job creation but also brings with it a host of other concerns. Amazon has been accused of mistreating its warehouse employees in a variety of ways, including in the realm of workplace injuries.

Most of the positions available at the new Shakopee warehouse will be for “fulfillment associates”, a position that requires employees to compete against one another by filling online shoppers’ purchases. This position requires employees to work as fast as they can for as much as ten hours at a time. Each fulfillment associate’s performance will be monitored closely and if the associate’s pace is deemed to be too slow, he or she will be terminated. Many of these positions will offer no job security and carry a very serious risk of injury. This is particularly concerning because of Amazon’s history where the safety standards of their warehouse employees have been questioned with its responsibilities under the Workers’ Compensation Act.

Thousands of employees in Minnesota work in manufacturing, construction, and warehouses, which requires the operation of heavy machinery and exposes workers to the risk of serious injury, even including death. For example, warehouse employees, including those working in Amazon fulfillment centers, are required to repeatedly lift heavy objects, operate forklifts, pallet jacks and other tools. This can cause ergonomic injuries to the back, neck, shoulders or knees over the course of time. Injuries referred to as “slip and trip” injuries are common in warehouses due to the presence of loose material such as sawdust, and liquid or boxes on the floor. Fall injuries are also fairly common because employees frequently work on raised platforms. In addition, in 2014 a Boston workers’ compensation attorney posted an article on their blog site stating that according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), two workers were killed within a 6 month timeframe while on the job. In December of 2013, a man was crushed to death at an Amazon fulfillment center after getting caught in a machine while sorting packages. Less than six months later, a woman working at an Amazon warehouse operating a power jack was died when boxes fell on her.

Despite what Amazon, or any other employer may tell you, when you sustain an injury on the job (serious or otherwise) your employer has certain responsibilities, including a duty to report the injury to the appropriate workers’ compensation office. It is very important that you report any injury that occurs at the work place because this will protect your potential benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act. A compensable workers’ compensation injury could be a knee injury after slipping or falling on the job or could be an onset of neck or back pain from repetitive lifting or bending without any specific incident.

If you sustain an injury on the job, it is important that you contact an attorney who is knowledgeable in the area of workers’ compensation. Unfortunately, your employer will not always give you full and accurate information about the workers’ compensation system and the benefits to which you may be entitled. For example, according to a 2011 article by, one strategy that Amazon has tried to implement in an effort avoid workers’ compensation liability is hiring a third party staffing agency, such as Integrity Staffing Solutions (ISS). By doing this, Amazon claims it is not the injured person’s employer instead ISS is the employer, and therefore Amazon is not liable for the injured worker’s wage loss or medical benefits. Whether Amazon would actually be considered your employer for purposes of workers’ compensation depends upon the unique facts of your case. But either way, your eligibility for wage loss, medical benefits and rehabilitation assistance under the Workers’ Compensation Act would remain the same.

Meuser Law Office, P.A. has handled thousands of workers’ compensation cases in the state of Minnesota, including warehouse injury claims. If you have been injured on the job, call Meuser Law Office, P.A. for a free no-obligation consultation to understand your rights. 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. Call us today at 1-877-746-5680.

Ashley Biermannby Ashley Biermann
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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

How do I Prepare for My Deposition?

A deposition is an on the record formal oral interview. In Minnesota workers’ compensation claims, attorneys for employers and insurers typically conduct a formal interview of an injured employee. Depositions are used in the discovery phase of litigations. The parties may learn important information about where and when the injured worker sought medical care, witnesses to the accident, and his or her current medical condition. The deposition may even be introduced at evidence at a hearing or work comp trial.

Who is Present During a Deposition?

Court Reporter: this person transcribes the interview while the parties are speaking and later produces a written transcript of the deposition.

Deponent: the person who is being deposed or questioned. This may be the injured worker, an expert witness such as a doctor, or a witness.

Attorneys: the attorney who is taking the deposition will be present as well as the attorney for the deponent.

Sometimes, an employee represented will be present. He or she is allowed to observe but not talk at all during the proceedings. They are not allowed to nod or shake their head or to intimidate the witness. If he or she behaves inappropriately the employee representative will be asked to leave. Spouses or partners of the deponent may be allowed to observed but he or she is also not allowed to participate. A spouse may not indicate or motion to the deponent.

What Happens During the Deposition?

The court reporter will administer an oath to the deponent. The deponent will swear to tell the truth just as if he or she was testifying in court in front of a judge.  The attorney who asked for the deposition will begin questioning or interviewing the deponent. Sometimes the attorney for the deponent may ask questions after the other attorney has finished his or her questioning. Typically, in a workers’ compensation case, rarely will an attorney object to the line of questioning. Attorneys are generally allowed free rein to ask the deponent a variety of questions and objections are reserved for a formal hearing.

Where Will the Deposition Take Place?

Generally, the deposition will take place in the office of one of the law firms involved with the case. In a work comp case, if an attorney is taking a deposition of an injured worker, the deposition usually takes place in the office of the injured worker’s attorney. If you have been sent notice of a deposition, you should check where and when the deposition will be held. You should also plan on arriving early to speak with your attorney and to ensure plenty of time so you are not late.

How Long Will the Deposition Take?

Work comp depositions last approximately 1 1/2 - 2 hours, but can be longer or shorter depending on the complexity of the issues or if the deponent has been deposed before for the same date of injury. The duration of the deposition differs from attorney to attorney for the insurer and employer and depends on the style of questioning. Usually the attorneys take at least one break. If you need more, just ask.

What Kinds of Questions Will I be Asked?
  1. Are you looking for work? Attorneys for the employers and insurers want to know if you are conducting a diligent job search. They may ask for job logs and examples of positions for which you have applied. If injured workers do not actively seek employment, he or she may not be entitled to certain types of wage loss benefits.
  2. When do you intend to retire? Attorneys for the employers and insurer may try to pressure you to state you planned on retiring at a young age, which could cut off your entitlement to work comp benefits until age 65.
  3. Do you have any prior injuries?
  4. Have you been convicted of a felony or a crime of dishonesty in the last 10 years?
  5. When did you first seek treatment?
  6. When did you first report your injury?
  1. Tell the truth. Lying can severely hurt your case. All cases have bad facts. You hired an attorney to help deal with the bad facts.
  2. If you don’t understand the question, ask the attorney to re-phrase.
  3. If you don’t know an answer, tell them you don’t know.
  4. Don’t guess. If an answer is an estimate or a guess say that before answering the question.
  5. Don’t ramble. Answer the question but don’t pontificate. If the attorney wants more information he or she will ask follow-up questions.
  6. Dress appropriately. While you do not need to wear a suit or formal clothing, sloppy clothes should not be worn. A button-down or collar shirt with hole free jeans are appropriate.
  7. The court reporter can only record oral responses. Don’t nod or shake your head. Answer yes or no.
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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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
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 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

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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