Thursday, January 5, 2017

What is a Claim Petition?

After an employer and insurer denies responsibility for a part or the entirety of a work injury and refuses to pay benefits, an attorney may initiate a workers’ compensation claim in Minnesota by filing a claim petition with the Court. Sometimes it’s appropriate for an attorney to file a request for rehabilitation or medical request with the Department of Labor and Industry and other times it’s more effective and advantageous to file a claim petition. In other cases, the case is on the hearing track after a lost .239 or NOID conference and a party will file a request for a formal hearing.

A claim petition sets forth the basic information about the employee’s claim, such as:

Employee’s name
Employer
Insurer for the employer
Address
Social security number
Date of birth
Date(s) of injury

The claim petition also lists the nature of the injury and the employee’s estimated average weekly wage. The claim petition will outline the type of claims for benefits against the insurer and employer. These claims may include wage loss benefits, out of pocket medical expenses, rehabilitation benefits, and medical benefits. The claim petition itself is a general form and can be amended or changed later. You can click on this link http://www.dli.mn.gov/WC/PDF/ec04.pdf to see a copy of the form.

The claim petition also lists third-party payors. Third-party payors are entities that have paid monies to or on behalf of the employee that should have been paid by the work comp insurance carrier. Third-party payors may include clinics with outstanding bills, major medical insurance companies, and even unemployment, long-term or short-term disability. These parties’ claims are included and asserted against the employer and insurer as well.

The claim petition is filed with the Department of Labor and Industry and copies are formally served on the employee, the employer, the insurer, and any third-party payors. The party must also provide an affidavit of service, demonstrating that the parties were properly served with the claim petition. Along with the claim petition, the employer and insurer is served with a demand for discovery—or a request for the employer and insurer to provide pertinent information for the case. The employee also sends out Intervention Notices to the possible third-party payors. Those entities must formally assert their interest in the claim to the court in order to be paid back by the employer and insurer if the claim is successful.

Once the claim petition is filed, the employer and insurer is required to file an answer, or a response to the claim petition, with the Court within 20 days. The employer and insurer will generally deny everything set forth in the claim petition. The case is then scheduled for a settlement conference at the Office of Administrative Hearings. In the interim the parties will conduct discovery. The discovery process includes: depositions, independent medical examinations, and the exchange of wage records and medical records between the parties. The attorney for the employer and insurer will also send a demand for discovery to the employee as well.

After the settlement conference, if the matter is not able to be resolved, the judge will set the matter and move the case on for hearing when a hearing date will be set and scheduled with the court. Sometimes, due to the length of time it may take to obtain medical records or a formal supportive narrative opinion from a treating physician, the settlement conference or hearing date may be continued or pushed back. Some judges will also schedule a pre-trial conference. During the generally short telephone call between the parties and the judge, the parties will advise the judge of the issues before the hearing and whether the parties are ready to proceed to a formal hearing.

If you have sustained a workplace injury and the work comp insurance company is denying all or even a portion of your claim, it is imperative you contact a knowledgeable attorney 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, December 28, 2016

Pitfalls of Receiving Wage Loss Benefits

There are certain requirements, or pitfalls, that you have to be careful of when it comes to receiving the wage loss benefits, either the Temporary Total Disability or the Temporary Partial Disability.



One of the requirements is you have to have physical restrictions. Oftentimes an employee may be off work and go to the doctor and the doctor may advise you to be careful, not do this or not do that, but if the restrictions are not in writing then they do not count. You are not entitled to the wage loss benefits unless those physical restrictions from your doctor are, in fact, in writing. So, if you sustain an injury and you are missing time off work, you need immediately go to your doctor and get a workability report or work restrictions.

Oftentimes people get confused when it comes to this type of documentation, procuring the right physical restrictions, but that is why we at Meuser Law Office, P.A. are here. We’re here to ensure that the documentation you obtained from your doctor is correct and will meet the requirements under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act.

If you are completely off work and receiving the Temporary Total Disability and assuming that you have physical restrictions, you must also conduct what we call a diligent job search. You have to show the judge in the end that you have been looking for work, that you are trying to look for work not with-standing the injury, not with-standing your restrictions. This is one of the main reasons for denial by an insurance company. They will simply argue that you failed to meet the requirements under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act. You failed to document your job search, did not conduct a sufficient job search, did not look for the right type of jobs, etc.  We work directly with our clients to ensure they have the right forms, the right documents, they know what types of benefits to look for, and what type of jobs to look for.

Don’t wait to get an attorney involved if you have a Minnesota workers’ compensation claim. The process can be very 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.

Ron Meuserby Ron Meuser
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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

What to Expect at a Work Comp Hearing

To help our clients understand what to expect at a Minnesota workers' compensation hearing, it is important to know what exactly is involved and the process that takes place. A formal workers' compensation hearing in Minnesota is a trial in front of a workers’ compensation judge. A workers' compensation hearing may be scheduled after a party files a claim petition or a request for a formal hearing. The judge will determine any past and ongoing issues in dispute between the parties and issue a formal court order and decision.

Where are the Hearings Held?

Hearings are scheduled at the Office of Administrative Hearings at 600 North Robert Street in St. Paul, Minnesota. Hearings may also be scheduled at 11 East Superior Street in Duluth, Minnesota. Sometimes in certain circumstances the parties will appear via teleconference. Once the hearing date is set, the Office of Administrative Hearings will send notice to all the parties. The hearing date may depend on the schedule of the judge and the attorneys.

How Long is a Work Comp Hearing?

Usually, the judge will ask the parties during the pre-trial how long they anticipate the parties will need to present testimony. Most cases take half of a day. If the parties expect to present more than a few live witnesses, the hearing may be schedule for a full day with a break in between for lunch. Sometimes, in complicated cases with numerous parties the hearing maybe scheduled for two days. It’s very important to arrive very early to ensure that you are on time for the proceedings. You should also meet with your attorney before the hearing.

Who is Present at a Work Comp Hearing?

The workers’ compensation judge who is assigned to your case will issue an order that determines the outcome of your case after hearing both sides present their case. Your attorney and the attorney for the other side will be present at the hearing. The parties typically sit across from each other at a table in the courtroom.

Expert witnesses, such as doctors, do not testify in person and rather the parties submit written reports in lieu of live testimony. Live witnesses, such as supervisors or co-workers if called to testify will be present as well. Generally, a representative from the insurance company or employer will also be present, even if he or she is not testifying.

What is the Proper Courtroom Etiquette?

The parties should dress formally and act respectfully. Do not speak until your attorney indicates it’s okay for you to do so. Everyone should be addressed formally and the judge is referred to as “Your Honor.” The parties will stand when the judge enters the room. Do not argue or interrupt the other side. It does not help your case if you make faces or get visibly emotional when the other side presents his or her case.

What is an Opening Statement?

Before witnesses testify, the parties will give an opening statement. First, the attorney for the injured employee will give a summary of what the witnesses will testify and why they should win the case. Next, the attorney for the insurer and employer will explain why they should win the case and why the injured worker is wrong on the facts and the law.

What Kind of Evidence Will Be Presented?

Generally, the parties will have exchanged exhibits and records before the hearing. The parties may even submit a set of joint exhibits in order to make it easier for the judge to examine the evidence in the case. The joint exhibits will include intervention notices, medical records, and wage records. The parties will submit written records, such as doctor reports, and may submit photographs and videos as well.

If a party objects to some of the evidence the parties will make their objection and the judge will decide to agree or disagree. Before the hearing begins the parties will take time to set forth the stipulations, which are the parts of the case to which the parties agree. For example, average weekly wage.

Next, the witnesses for the injured worker or claimant will give their testimony. The order of the witnesses is determined by the attorney before the hearing. The witnesses will be sworn in and will answer a set of questions from the employee’s attorney. The attorney for the insurer and the employer will be given a chance to cross-examine the witnesses after they have answered questions from the other attorney. Then the attorney for the employee will be given an opportunity for “re-direct” and will try to clarify any points made by the other attorney.

What is a Closing Statement?

The parties may give an oral or a written closing statement, depending on the preference of the judge. The closing statement closely reflects the opening statement in that the parties will summarize important pieces of the evidence presented and why it fits within the law.

What Happens After the Case?

The proceeding will be electronically recorded and the judge will then issue a “findings and order” that is the decision of the case. If either party disagrees with the decision they may appeal to the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals.

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, December 13, 2016

Applying for Police & Fire Plan PERA Duty Disability Benefit Rules

When you are applying for a Police and Fire Plan PERA Duty Disability benefit, it is important to know there are some very complicated rules that apply. If your attorney is not aware of some of these rules, it can cost you significant amounts of money. For example, there is what we call the 2-year rule. What that means, is if your injury predated your application by more than 2 years you have additional criteria that you need to demonstrate in order to be approved for a PERA Police and Fire Plan Duty Disability.



You need to show that the injury prevents you not only from performing your normal duties as a police officer or firefighter but you also need to demonstrate that you cannot perform the duties that you were expected to perform in the last 90 days you worked. Where this typically becomes an issue is if you are working for an employer that offers long-term light duty. In fact, there are a number of employers that purportedly offer permanent light duty. Minneapolis and St. Paul very frequently attempt to offer some form of light duty which can make your application much more complicated.

If you have a Minnesota Police and Fire Plan PERA Duty Disability claim, contact the attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. for a free, no-obligation legal consultation. Our knowledgeable attorneys will help you understand the often confusing PERA Duty Disabilty benefit law and ensure you receive the full benefits you are entitled to. Call us today at 1-877-746-5680.

Jennifer Yackleyby Jen Yackley
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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Police Officer Writes Testimonial for Their Case Involving PERA Duty Disability, Healthcare Continuation and Work Comp Claims

Since day one, Meuser Law Office, P.A. has represented injured clients throughout Minnesota making sure the best possible results are obtained for their claims. We take great pride in our reputation and feel honored when a satisfied client takes a moment to thank us. Read what a recent client had to say about his experience with Meuser Law Office, and specifically our attorney Ashley Biermann.

Hi Ashley,

It's Thanksgiving week and I've always been brought up to reflect on what
I'm grateful for and to give thanks to God. I still try hard to do that
regularly. As you know, I was as close as one can get to essentially losing
everything including my home. It was a process, but I trusted you and your
office and God that things would work out. They really have turned around
and words cannot express how grateful I really am. The money began flowing
exactly when it HAD to. My bills are now paid, my credit is rebuilding and
most importantly my sanity and PEACE has been restored. Man I love being at
peace again!

Without question this has been the most trying time of my life, and it's a
little weird to think that my attorney got me through it, but you really
did! I'm so damn grateful for everything you've done and all the work you've
put in. You also probably talked me off the ledge a couple times. I didn't
know what to expect going into this. All I know is that I'm grateful to you
and Meuser Law for everything you've done and continue to do. Thank you for
your honesty, integrity, wittiness, intelligence, professionalism,
promptness, compassion, and hard work. I greatly appreciate all you've done.


Please also thank Ron, Hannah, and anyone else at your office that played a
part. Feel free to forward. Thanks again. God bless and have a good
Thanksgiving.

—a Minnesota police officer

This particular client is a Minnesota police officer injured in the line of duty that we represented for PERA Duty Disability, healthcare continuation benefits and workers’ compensation 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 State Patrol, police officers and firefighters throughout the state for both workers’ compensation and PERA/MSRS disability claims. We 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 for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling 1-877-746-5680.

Ashley Biermannby Ashley Biermann
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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Meuser Law Office, P.A. is a proud sponsor of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis

The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis is the largest non-affiliated law enforcement union in the state of Minnesota with over 900 active members. Ron Meuser and the attorneys of Meuser Law Office, P.A. look forward to working closely with a Federation which operates with the goal of working towards a safer, more livable city and continually improving the working conditions as well as making sure the rights are protected for the police officers who work in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis has represented police officers who are employed by the city of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, from the new Academy graduates all the way to the rank of Captain. Since 1972 the Federation has served its members in the traditional role of negotiating and enforcing the collective bargaining agreement as well as critical incidents, investigations of officers conducted under the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights, and lobbying to advance the public policy interests of members at the local, state and federal levels.

Lt. Bob Kroll, President of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis had this to say about the sponsorship: “We really appreciate Meuser Law Office sponsoring our organization. We look forward to introducing them to our members and sharing their information that will assist police officers, should they become injured in the line of duty. Given their longevity and expertise, we believe they’ll be a valuable resource for the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis.” Ron Meuser and his team also look forward to assisting Lt. Kroll and the members of his Federation and getting to know them better by attending events like their annual Minneapolis Police Federation Charities, Inc. Golf Tournament next summer.

Established in 1990, Meuser Law Office, P.A. is recognized as one of the top law firms in Minnesota dedicated exclusively to the integrated practice of workers’ compensation, PERA/MSRS disability, and personal injury law. With over 30 years of combined experience, the attorneys at Meuser Law Office have the depth of knowledge in these often closely-tied areas of law representing Minnesota’s police officers to ensure that their interests are fully protected. The attorneys at Meuser Law Office will share some of their knowledge with the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis by posting blog articles on their website http://www.mpdfederation.com/category/blog/. Read a larger sampling of articles from Meuser Law Office at www.peraworkcompattorney.com.

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 Minnesota’s first responders, including police officers throughout the state for both workers’ compensation and PERA/MSRS disability claims. Unlike other local law firms that only focus on one area or the other, the attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. will handle your case with a full understanding of all three areas and how they interrelate so you can be assured you will receive every benefit and all the compensation you are entitled under the law. 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 for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling 1-877-746-5680.

Ron Meuserby Ron Meuser
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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Law Enforcement Labor Services (LELS) Steward Training

Earlier last month, Ron Meuser and Jen Yackley of Meuser LawOffice, P.A. were invited back by Minnesota Law Enforcement Labor Services (LELS) to share information that is important to its members. In August, 2016, Ron and Jen met with 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.

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
Understanding the great risk Minnesota’s Peace Officers are in each day, Ron and Jen provided training to over 65 LELS stewards to ensure they know the steps to communicate and benefit eligibility if a peace or police officer sustains an injury in the line of duty. Oftentimes there are multiple benefit claim types involved with one injury so it is imperative the individual works with an attorney knowledgeable in Minnesota workers’ compensation and PERA/MSRS disability law from the beginning. Topics covered included:
  • Overview of workers’ compensation and PERA/MSRS disability benefits
  • Workers’ compensation wage loss benefits
  • Motor vehicle accident injuries
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder and other special situations
  • Continuation of health insurance benefits
These topics, general tips, and much more were discussed in detail. A laminated, 3-hole punched document was given to each of the LELS stewards attending the session. This document will be a great resource to any steward should they have to consult with a peace officer injured in the line of duty. If your organization would like a similar document produced, call 1-877-746-5680. Or, simply download it for your reference.


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 much 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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