Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Don’t Wait to Seek Medical Treatment if You’ve Been Injured

If you haven’t already done so, you need to immediately seek medical care treatment if you have any type of work injury that requires medical care. Oftentimes, an employee may try to hold off on seeking the care. The problem with that is if you do not seek medical care treatment, then your rights do not become vested, and oftentimes employees will wait for a certain time to go by. Oftentimes they’ll think “Well, it’s not that bad, I don’t want to be seen as one of those people who file a workers’ compensation claim” or “I think it will go away after a couple weeks”.



Unfortunately, the longer you go without seeking medical treatment the better the likelihood the insurance company is going to deny your claim. So, in our opinion you need to immediately seek medical care treatment. If you haven’t sought the medical treatment after having filed the First Report of Injury, then go to the doctor. Go to your general practitioner or go to the urgent care center, but you need to have it documented that in fact you have sustained an injury.

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.

Ron Meuserby Ron Meuser
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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Firefighters with Cancer: The Statutory Presumption

Minnesota has a long history of protecting workers. In fact, Minnesota and New York were the first states to adopt “occupational disease presumptions” into the law. Prior to the adoption of these presumptions of causation, an injured party had the burden of proving that the injury or disease arose out of the course and scope of his or her employment.

At first glance, it makes sense to require the injured party to “connect the dots” between the injury or condition and the activities he or she performed as a part of the job; however, as a practical matter, this requirement precluded injured workers from obtaining a remedy under the Workers’ Compensation Act.  For example, if a worker contracted lung cancer from his contact with dangerous work-place fumes, proving that the fumes he was exposed to at work caused the cancer would be difficult, if not impossible. Causation is difficult in these cases because the cancer could have been caused by many different things, such as a genetic predisposition or exposure to cigarette smoke, and doctors are unable (or unwilling) to state to a reasonable degree of medical certainty what the “true” cause of the condition is.

The Minnesota legislature stepped in to address this injustice by adopting a presumption of causation with regard to occupational diseases. A classic example of an occupational disease from the early 20th century is Radium Jaw—a disease that involves the constant bleeding of the gums, which eventually leads to a tumorous jaw bone and severe facial distortion. This condition results from exposure to the radium used in the manufacture of watch dials. With a presumption of causation, an injured watch worker’s Radium Jaw would be presumed to be caused by his or her work. In order to overcome this presumption, counsel for the defense must provide substantive evidence showing the condition was caused by something other than the employee’s work. In other words, the watch dial manufacturer would have to prove that the employee: 1) came into sufficient contact with radium outside of work, and 2) prove that the non-work related radium was the actual cause of the disease.

In 1988, Minnesota extended the statutory presumption to provide legal protection for firefighters who developed certain types of cancer. Minnesota Statutes section 176.011 provides that an active duty firefighter who is unable to perform his or her duties because of a disabling cancer is presumed to have an occupational disease. To qualify for this presumption of causation, the cancer must be of a type caused by heat, radiation, or reasonably linked carcinogens. When a firefighter contracts one of these types of cancers, it is presumed to be caused by his work as a firefighter.

For more information on the statutory presumption of causation related to firefighters, click here.

If you are a firefighter who has been diagnosed with cancer and have questions about whether you have a workers’ compensation claim, or are eligible for PERA Duty Disability claim, contact the attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A.  Our attorneys have experience representing clients with this type of workers’ compensation claim. Contact us today at 877-746-5680 for a free no-obligation consultation.

Ashley Biermannby Ashley Biermann
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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

PERA and the Two-Year Rule

If you have a potentially career ending injury, you should immediately consult with a Minnesota attorney who practices in PERA and MSRS disability law. Although it may be too soon to determine if you can return to work, you should still consult with an attorney right away to learn about your options. If you wait two years after your work injury it may be too late to apply for PERA or MSRS Duty Disability benefits.

To receive Duty Disability benefits, Minnesota police officers, deputy sheriffs, firefighters, and corrections officers must show that he or she has a condition that is expected to prevent him or her from performing “the normal duties” of his or her position for a period of twelve months as “a direct result of an injury incurred during the performance of inherently dangerous duties that are specific to” the position of police officer. See Minn. Stat. § 353.01, subd, 41. Members of the police and fire plan must show:

The injury will persist for over one year
The injury was sustained while performing inherently dangerous duties specific to the position
The disablement is a direct result of the injury

When the date of the disabling injury is more than two years prior to filing an application for Duty Disability benefits, police officers, deputy sheriffs, corrections officers, and firefighters must also demonstrate that he or she is unable to perform the most recent duties that were expected to be performed by him or her in the 90 days preceding his or her application, under Minnesota Statute § 353.031, Subdivision 4(b). The issue that frequently arises in cases with disabling injuries over two years old is that the State, cities, and counties often offer light duty for the injured worker. PERA has a restrictive view on the term “duties” in Minnesota Statute §353.01, subdivision 4(b). If a police officer or firefighter is able to work desk duty then PERA will frequently deny his or her application.

Meuser Law Office, P.A. has successfully argued in contested case hearings that PERA unfairly limits the definition of “duties” expected to perform, however this issue has not yet been heard in front of the Minnesota Court of Appeals and it is costly for claimants to litigate their case through numerous appeals. We argue that the term “duties” in Minnesota Statute § 353.01, subdivision 4(b) refers to the full range of duties of the member, not the particular temporary assignment. For example, an officer working missing persons desk duty is still a licensed peace officer in the state of Minnesota, able to effect arrests, use a weapon, and maintain order. But given an officer’s physical restrictions he or she is unable to effect arrests, subdue suspects, or ensure his or her own safety.

Administrative Law Judges’ past decisions, the rules of statutory interpretation, and public policy support this interpretation of the term “duties.” Interpreting “duties” to mean the duties of the position held by the member in the ninety-days preceding the application promotes public policy by preserving judicial economy; eliminating improper financial incentives to public employers; and upholding the legislative intent of the statute, including the purpose behind the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act.

This interpretation avoids wasting PERA, the employer, and the member’s time and resources, which would be spent comparing conflicting post hoc job descriptions and definitions of the applicant’s “duties.” This interpretation also encourages a public employer to only offer light duty for ninety-days, in light of the financial advantage. Otherwise qualified public employees injured in the line of duty would then not be eligible for Duty Disability benefits because public employers will “work the statute” by employing injured employees in a light duty capacity for only ninety-days and therefore avoid any financial obligation owed under the statute.

PERA’s interpretation discourages members from attempting to return to work, even in a light duty capacity, and encourages members to refuse light duty assignments offered by employers. Incentivizing employees to refuse light duty work runs contrary to the purpose of the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act. Almost all members who sustain a qualifying injury under the PERA Police and Fire plan qualify for Minnesota Workers’ Compensation benefits and a central tenet of the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act is to return injured workers back to work.

Subsequently, employees will be forced to choose between PERA and worker’s compensation benefits. The Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act specifically permits employers to discontinue wage loss benefits if an employee refuses an offer of employment. See, e.g, Minn. Stat. § 176.101, subd. 1(i); Minn. Stat. § 176.102, subd. 4. Therefore, the City’s interpretation places qualified employees in the position of deciding which benefit to jeopardize: PERA disability benefits or workers’ compensation benefits.

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. 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.

Mary Beth Boyceby Mary Beth
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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Re-Introduced Bill Seeks to Help First Responders with PTSD

When the Minnesota legislature opened the 2017 session, a crucial bill that directly affects Minnesota’s first responders who suffer fromPTSD was re-introduced. This bill was originally presented in April of 2016, and did not pass at that time although information has been communicated and much awareness has been raised about this important topic.

Meuser Law Office, P.A. understands the importance of legislature such as this and created a petition in April 2016 to help spread the word and gather support for this bill. We encourage all current and former law enforcement officers, firefighters, State Troopers, first responders, and family and friends of Minnesota's first responders to sign and share this petition and/or contact their legislators to urge them to support this important bill.

The bill’s author, Senator-elect Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park, is also a police officer in Cottage Grove. Senator-elect Schoen recently called a meeting in the Senate Office Building to hear from Minnesotans affected by PTSD. Among the people who spoke was St. Paul firefighter and paramedic, Brian Cristofono. Brian, a current client of Meuser Law Office, P.A., says fire departments need to talk about PTSD more and take this issue more seriously. “We spend so much time learning how to save ourselves, how to rescue people, but we don’t give any training time to PTSD or mental health”.

Recently, KSTP Channel 5 Eyewitness News ran a story on this PTSD bill featuring Minnesotans directly affected by PTSD, including Brian Cristofono. Take a moment to watch the KSTP Eyewitness News story with emotions ranging from sad to tragic:


Continue reading the original article from our blog site below:

New Bill Seeks to Help First Responders with PTSD

This week, the Minnesota legislature issued a News Release announcing the introduction of a bill that could have major implications for Minnesota’s first responders who suffer from PTSD.

Since October 1, 2013, the Minnesota workers’ compensation law has recognized post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a “covered” injury for purposes of workers’ compensation law. In the 2 ½ years since the law passed, in our practice, we have unfortunately seen some workers’ compensation insurers take a “full court press” approach to defending against these cases – many involving police officers, firefighters, and corrections officers. We have seen cases where a police officer clearly and obviously suffers from profound PTSD as the result of terrible trauma, and yet the workers’ compensation insurer denies that it was “traumatic enough” of an event, or hires an adverse doctor to offer an outrageous opinion that the person doesn’t have PTSD.

This week, Rep. Dan Schoen (DFL – St. Paul Park) and Sen. Matt Schmit (DFL – Red Wing) introduced a bill that would include post-traumatic stress disorder under the “presumption” section of the Workers’ Compensation Act – meaning that post-traumatic stress disorder would be “presumed” to be work-related for some specific first responders, including police officers, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, conservation officers, and others.

While PTSD is currently covered under Minnesota Workers’ Compensation, this statute would change the burden of proof – meaning that it would no longer be the employee’s burden of proof to demonstrate that he or she has PTSD and that it is work-related – it becomes the employer/insurer’s burden of proof to disprove that the individual’s PTSD is work-related.

Seeing the practical realities of how PTSD claims are administered by some public employers, we at Meuser Law Office, P.A., are hopeful that this presumption statute will it easier for our state’s first responders to get the benefits they are entitled to under the law.

Representative Schoen commented that “It really just comes down to we’re at the point where there is just zero question whether this is a work-related injury…we know it is.”

Schoen, a Cottage Grove police officer, said police and firefighters have told him of their experiences with post-traumatic stress disorder. Public agencies send first responders into the “worst of the worst,” he said, and those experiences build over time.

“Everybody’s got a bucket and that bucket might be different sizes for different people, but it starts to fill up,” Schoen said.

Schoen and Schmit said they don’t expect their bill to pass this session. The GOP-controlled House has not scheduled a hearing, Schoen said. Instead, they want to hold an information hearing yet this session to raise awareness.

We at Meuser Law Office, P.A., have created a petition for you to easily show your support for this legislation. Click here to readand sign the petition. We encourage all current and former law enforcement officers, firefighters, State Troopers, first responders, and family and friends of Minnesota's first responders to sign and share this petition and/or contact their legislators to urge them to support this important bill.

Meuser Law Office, P.A., has proudly represented Minnesota's first responders for PTSD-related claims for over a decade. We encourage all current and former law enforcement officers, firefighters, State Troopers, first responders, and family and friends of Minnesota's first responders to contact their legislators to urge them to support this important bill.

Click here to find contact information for your state representatives.

Ron Meuserby Ron Meuser
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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

First Report of Injury



If you sustain an injury while in the course and scope of your employment here in the state of Minnesota you have various rights under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act. Before you’re entitled to those rights however, you are required to do certain things. This is very important. Often times employees will hold off on filing the First Report of Injury thinking that the injury will go away or they will give it a rest over the weekend or ‘I’ll ice it tonight’ and unfortunately they don’t report the injuries.  The most important aspect of what you do is to report that injury. In our opinion you need to do more than simply report the injury to your supervisor. Often times a supervisor will not write it down or the supervisor will not report it to Human Resources. So in order to protect yourself now and in the future you need to send the supervisor, HR or the appropriate person written documentation that you have, in fact, sustained an injury; when the injury occurred; how it occurred; and what body part was affected. From there, your responsibility ends.

The employer is then responsible to prepare what is called a First Report of Injury. This is a document that they are required to file with the state of Minnesota confirming that in fact you have sustained an injury and that it has been reported to them. From there they will contact the workers’ compensation liability carrier and the process begins as it relates to your claim.

At Meuser Law Office, P.A. we work on a contingency fee basis, which means our attorney fees are based on the amount we recover on your behalf. It also means that there is no fee unless we recover benefits on your behalf.

 Call Meuser Law Office, P.A. at 877-746-5680 for a free, no-obligation Minnesota workers’ compensation legal consultation. Let the experienced attorneys at Meuser Law help you understand this often confusing area of the law and ensure you receive the full benefits you are entitled to.

Ron Meuserby Ron Meuser
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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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