Thursday, December 28, 2017

Continuation of Health Insurance Benefits for Disabled Minnesota Firefighters and Police Officers

In addition to workers’ compensation and PERA disability benefits, Minnesota’s police officers and firefighters who suffer disabling injuries while performing inherently dangerous duties are also eligible for continued health insurance coverage.

Minnesota statute § 299A.465 requires that an employer of a police officer or firefighter who has been awarded PERA Duty Disability benefits continue to pay their share of the police officer or firefighter’s health insurance premiums until the officer or firefighter reaches age 65. If the officer or firefighter’s dependents had coverage through the employer at the time of the officer or fighter’s injury, the employer must also continue to pay its share of the insurance premiums for those dependents.

In plain English, that means that if you are a Minnesota police officer or firefighter, and you suffer a career-ending injury that was incurred while you were performing inherently dangerous duties, your employer has to continue to offer you the same health insurance and continue to pay their share of the premium, as though you remained on the payroll through age 65.

Although this statute seems pretty straight-forward, Meuser Law Office, P.A. has seen a huge increase in the frequency of litigation on these claims. Given the rising costs of health insurance, more and more employers are trying to deny these types of claims, and we are seeing more and more situations where it isn’t 100% clear how this statute should apply.

Here are a few of the situations the attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. have seen recently and how the courts have been deciding these issues. Notably, we are seeing different courts arrive at different conclusions.

Employer Contested Case Hearings

After an officer or firefighter is awarded PERA Duty Disability benefits, an employer has the right to “appeal” that determination by requesting a Contested Case Hearing at the Office of Administrative Hearings in front of a neutral Administrative Law Judge within 60 days of notice of PERA’s Duty Disability approval. Usually “appeals” in this context are based on an employer’s argument that the police officer or firefighter doesn’t meet the Duty Disability criteria for one reason or another. We have litigated several of these cases to a favorable conclusion in front of an Administrative Law Judge, and we have settled several other contested cases for a lump sum cash settlement. A Contested Case Hearing is like an informal trial, at which evidence and testimony will be submitted, and the Administrative Law Judge makes a decision as to whether the officer or firefighter is eligible for benefits. This is considered a final determination, and either side can appeal to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Our office recently had an interesting case involving two employers. Arguably, the officer’s post-traumatic stress disorder was caused by his traumatic exposures at two different law enforcement agencies, and arguably, both are partially responsible for his health insurance coverage. One employer requested a Contested Case Hearing, and the other did not. The employer who did not request a Contested Case Hearing filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that he had waived his right to future health insurance coverage via Minn. Stat. § 299A.465 because he had signed an employment law release in exchange for a severance when he left that department. The Court disagreed. In fact, the Court held that employer had no right to even contest this officer’s eligibility health insurance coverage since it failed to request a Contested Case Hearing within the statutory time frame.

Suing an Employer in District Court

Even though Minn. Stat. § 299A.465 says that an employer has to request a Contested Case Hearing within 60 days of PERA’s notice of approval for Duty Disability benefits, often employers don’t do that. Instead, they admit that the disabled officer or firefighter meets the eligibility requirements for Duty Disability, but they argue that the disabled officer or firefighter is ineligible for Continued Health Insurance benefits for other reasons. Usually, these cases must then be sued out in district court. We have a couple cases currently pending in district court involving these issues, and we’ve been able to settle a few cases as well. Usually, the issues involved in cases in district court revolve around whether the disabled officer or firefighter is barred from health insurance because of a gap in coverage, because they were covered as a dependent on a spouse’s policy, or because they waived coverage in exchange for a cash benefit.

Cases Involving More Than One Employer

As mentioned, we now have a handful of cases involving multiple employers. Two cases involved post-traumatic stress disorder that was caused by an officer’s exposure to traumatic events at two different agencies, and a third case involved an officer who suffered a back injury that was re-injured with a different agency. In one of the post-traumatic stress disorder cases, notwithstanding both employers’ arguments to the contrary, the Administrative Law Judge held that even though Minn. Stat. § 299A.465 doesn’t explicitly address that situation, that a court may equitably apportion responsibility for continued health insurance coverage to two or more employers who may both be responsible for the officer’s underlying disabling condition. The second post-traumatic stress disorder case is still in litigation. On the case involving the back injury, even though two employers were both arguably responsible for the officer’s back injury, his most recent employer voluntarily agreed to pay his ongoing health insurance coverage.

Cash Incentive Insurance Waivers

With ever-rising health insurance costs, we are seeing litigation involving cash incentive waiver plans much more frequently because we are seeing more and more public employers offering such plans. Employers can offer a variety of different types of cash waiver plans, but the concept is that an officer or firefighter waives health insurance coverage through their public employer in exchange for a monthly, quarterly, or annual cash benefit. For example, an officer may have the option of waiving health insurance coverage through his employer, go on his spouse’s family plan as a dependent, and receive $250 per month from his employer as an incentive for waiving coverage. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? Well, not necessarily. In almost every case we have seen with a cash waiver plan, the employer has argued that the officer or firefighter is ineligible for health insurance benefits. What if that officer or firefighter’s spouse loses his or her job and insurance? What if the officer or firefighter goes through a divorce or their spouse dies? What if the officer or firefighter’s spouse retires? Who pays for that officer or firefighter’s insurance?

At this point, it is unclear. We have had different results in different courts on this issue. There is a Court of Appeals case our office handled a few years ago which found that a disabled firefighter who was a dependent on his spouse’s insurance policy was eligible for Continued Health Insurance Benefits in accordance with Minn. Stat. § 299A.465, even though he was not individually covered on the city’s health insurance plan.

We also recently had an Administrative Law case where the officer had elected to waive his coverage in exchange for cash benefit, and he was a dependent on his wife’s family policy. The employer argued that he gave up his right to benefits under Minn. Stat. § 299A.465 because he accepted the cash benefit and waived coverage. The court disagreed, holding that the employer was required to continue to offer him coverage.

We currently have a case in District Court involving three officers/firefighters from the same employer that all elected the cash waiver plan offered by their employer. We expect that this case will go to the Minnesota Court of Appeals to hopefully definitively answer whether an employer is required to “continue” health insurance for a disabled officer or firefighter who waived coverage.

Occasionally run into other types of cases involving disputes over exactly what benefits are provided by Minn. Stat. § 299A.465, including a case involving a cash incentive for waiver of family coverage, cases involving HSA contributions, and cases involving reimbursement for COBRA coverage.

This is a very complex and evolving area of law. If you are a Minnesota police officer or firefighter with questions about your rights under Minn. Stat. § 299A.465, we are happy to help.

There are a variety of benefits available for Minnesota’s disabled police officers and firefighters, including, but not limited to, workers’ compensation benefits, PERA disability benefits, Continuation of Health Insurance benefits, and third-party liability claims. Contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. to learn more about your rights. Call us today at 1-877-746-5680.

Jennifer Yackleyby Jen Yackley
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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Can I Be Fired for Reporting a Work Injury?

The short answer is no, not legally. Technically, an employer can terminate you for any reason, legal or not, but there is recourse that can be taken if you are fired or threatened with termination after sustaining an injury at work.

An employer must fill out a First Report of Injury after you report a work injury however, despite completing and filing this form, an employer may still doubt your veracity and the legitimacy of your injury claim. If this belief is communicated to the Minnesota workers’ compensation insurer, your claim may be denied. After the denial, the employer may feel justified in disciplining or firing you for filing a “false claim.”

Minnesota law does not allow an employer from discharging or threatening to discharge an employee for seeking workers' compensation benefits or in any manner intentionally obstructing an employee seeking workers’ compensation benefits. This provision allows an injured worker to bring a civil claim against his employer if the employee was fired or obstructed from bringing a workers’ compensation claim. In practice, these actions are fairly uncommon but they’re also essential. The action acts as a check against employers, allowing employees to recover the workers’ compensation benefits that they would have received if not for the unlawful interference of their employer.

This law does not mean that an employee can never be fired legally after sustaining a work-related injury. For example, if an employee already has an extensive history of absenteeism and then misses several days from work after a work injury without providing restrictions from his doctor, the employee may be terminated through the process set out in the employer’s standard policy. If your employer terminates you after filing a work injury and does not follow its standard policy, does not assist you in filing for workers’ compensation benefits, or does not allow you a reasonable opportunity to seek medical treatment, you may be able to bring a successful retaliation claim.

Furthermore, with regard to “false claims,” the employer may be able to fire you for reporting what they believe to be a false workers’ compensation claim. This, however, is risky for the employer because the court seems to be asking whether the employer had a “reasonable belief” of claim falsification. What is a reasonable belief of claim falsification? Again, it depends, but the consensus seems to be that the employer must conduct a thorough investigation of the employee’s allegation of work-related injury. In completing this investigation, the court looks at whether the employer conducted a detailed and fair investigation, and was not simply results oriented. It also should make sure that any such investigation is complete and not results oriented.

It is also worth noting that practical concerns influence employers with regard to discharging employees. If an employee’s claim is admitted, the employer and insurer will be on the hook for ongoing wage loss benefits, if they choose to terminate you. This results in a very real financial incentive for employers to find work for you after sustaining a work injury. This is still true, but to a lesser extent, for denied claims. Even if your claim is denied by the workers’ compensation insurer, you’re still able to fight for the benefits the insurer should have paid you and establish ongoing workers’ compensation payments from the date of termination forward.

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. Call us today at 877-746-5680.

Ashley Biermannby Ashley Biermann
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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Is My Employer Required To Carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Employers in Minnesota are mandated to carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees under Minnesota Statute §176.181, subdivision 2. The legislature wants to ensure that injured workers have access to recovery if he or she suffers an injury on the job. Employees are generally defined as a person who performs services for another for hire. Employees include minors, part-time workers and non-U.S. citizens. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry is responsible for work comp insurance in Minnesota.

Under Minnesota Statute §176.041 in certain circumstances some types of employers are not required to carry work comp insurance. These types of employers include but are not limited to:
  • Family farm employees (if paid less than $8,000 in cash wages over the last year)
  • Independent contractors
  • Household workers
  • LLC or limited liability companies
  • Closely held corporations
  • Nonprofit associations
However, these types of employers may still elect to carry work comp insurance coverage and many do, so if you work for one do not assume they do not carry work comp insurance. You may check on the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry’s website at http://www.inslookup.doli.state.mn.us/ to search whether your employer carries a policy. Employers are also required to post a Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Employee Rights and Responsibilities poster in a conspicuous location for its employees. The poster must show the employer’s insurance carrier information, including a name and phone number.

If you believe that a business does not have workers’ compensation coverage you may report that company to the Department of Labor and Industry’s Special Compensation Fund by email or by phone at 651-284-5453.

If the employer is required to carry work comp insurance and fails to do so, injured employees may still receive benefits from the Minnesota Special Compensation Fund under Minnesota Statute §176.129. The Minnesota Special Compensation Fund may then receive reimbursement from the employer for benefits paid to the injured worker plus monetary penalties. The Minnesota Special Compensation Fund also administers Supplementary Benefits, which are a complicated specific type of wage loss benefit that may affect an injured worker who was injured before 1990. The Special Compensation fund also investigates whether the employer has coverage and steps in the place of the employer, if the employer failed to maintain coverage.

Some employers are self-insured as well, and thus responsible for paying out workers’ compensation claims. Generally large public entities are self-insured, such as the State of Minnesota or the City of St. Paul. The Minnesota Commerce Department must issue its approval for an employer to be self-insured for the purposes of workers’ compensation. The employer must prove its financial capability to be self-insured.

If you have sustained an injury in the course and scope of your employment in the State of Minnesota, contact Meuser Law Office, P.A. for a free no-obligation case consultation. Don’t wait to get an attorney involved if you have a Minnesota workers’ compensation claim. The process can be complex, but the knowledgeable attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. keep our clients informed of the process as well as what to expect each step of the way. We take the time with each client to help determine which benefits under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act you are entitled. Call us today at 1-877-746-5680.

Mary Beth Boyceby Mary Beth
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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

PERA Police and Fire Plan 18 Month Filing Deadline: Do Not Miss It!

There are several important deadlines that Minnesota police officers and firefighters need to be aware of when filing a PERA disability benefits claim, including the 18-month post-termination filing deadline.

Applications for Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) Police and Fire Plan Duty or Regular Disability Benefits MUST be filed within 18 months after the person’s termination from public service. If an application is not filed within 18 months, an otherwise eligible disabled police officer or firefighter is barred from filing for PERA disability benefits. Missing this deadline can cost a disabled police officer or firefighter hundreds of thousands of dollars.

We have seen this issue come up several times. If a disabled police officer or firefighter has missed the 18-month deadline, no matter how strong his or her claim for PERA Duty Disability benefits and no matter how much we want to help, there is nothing the attorney can do.

Unfortunately, the attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. see this issue come up occasionally. For example:
  • An attorney in our office was contacted by a police officer who was involved in an on-duty shooting incident. The officer developed some mental health issues as a result and went on a medical leave for a short period of time. At the officer’s request, the officer’s doctor cleared her to return to full duty, even though she was still having mental health issues. After a short time back on the job, she realized things weren’t going well and she knew she couldn’t continue. She resigned from her job and didn’t pursue anything even though she was suffering from serious post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the on-duty shooting incident. Thankfully, a former colleague of hers suggested she call Meuser Law Office, P.A. to see if she was eligible for any benefits. We got her application in just shy of the 18-month deadline, and this officer was awarded PERA Duty Disability benefits, 299A.465 Continuation of Health Insurance benefits, and workers’ compensation benefits
  • An officer contacted us to evaluate his potential PERA Duty Disability claim. He was referred to Meuser Law Office, P.A. by his workers’ compensation lawyer, having just settled his workers’ compensation claim. This Minnesota police officer had suffered a low back injury while wrestling with a suspect which required surgery. After his physical restrictions due to his low back injury were deemed permanent, his employer terminated him based on his inability to perform his full duty job. Over the next two years, he collected various workers’ compensation benefits, and his work comp lawyer ultimately settled his workers’ compensation case. Unfortunately, his workers’ compensation lawyer also instructed him not to file for PERA Duty Disability benefits during that time. By the time he met with an attorney in our office, his PERA claim was barred because he had failed to file within 18 months of his termination. There was nothing that we could do to help him. Because this officer’s workers’ compensation lawyer didn’t know the rules associated with PERA, he gave the officer bad advice that cost him several hundred thousand dollars.
  • An attorney in our office met with a Minnesota police officer who had terminated from his employment over two years prior to our meeting. He had resigned as a police officer when he started to struggle with some mental health issues. Unfortunately, he didn’t seek help for his symptoms and he wasn’t diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder until more than two years after he terminated. Because he didn’t seek help and tried to manage it on his own, this officer didn’t even know he had PTSD until two years after he resigned. This gentleman didn’t receive a diagnosis until after the 18-month deadline had passed, but currently PERA does not have an exception for latent conditions that are not diagnosed until much later in time, such as cancer or post-traumatic stress disorder.
For Minnesota’s police officers and firefighters who suffer significant on-duty injuries, it is imperative to have the right lawyer from the beginning. At Meuser Law Office, P.A., the first time we meet with a client, our knowledgeable and experienced attorneys evaluate every potential claim, including but not limited to, Minnesota workers’ compensation, PERA/MSRS disability, Continuation of Health Insurance claims, and third-party claims. Our attorneys develop a timeline and a plan to ensure every possible resource for benefits is explored, which includes the coordination of claims every step of the way. Experience matters. For a free, no-obligation consultation, contact Meuser Law Office, P.A. Call us today at 1-877-746-5680.

Jennifer Yackleyby Jen Yackley
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Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Adjuster Refuses to Pay My Benefits. Am I Eligible for Penalties?

In rare circumstances employers and insurers may be subject to monetary penalties for violating the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act. Penalties serve as a deterrent to employers and insurers from flagrant disregard of the rules. Some penalties are payable to the State of Minnesota and some are payable to the employee.

1. Frivolous Liability Denial

When an adjuster for an insurance company denies an injured worker’s claim, the adjuster must demonstrate a good-faith effort to investigate the claim. The adjuster may also not use clearly inaccurate statements of fact or applicable law under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act. If a judge finds that an adjuster has violated Minnesota Statute §176.221, subdivision 1 and 176.225, subdivision 1, then the judge may issue a penalty against the insurance company payable to the State and the employee. An employee may be entitled to 30% of the amount of the delayed benefits.

At Meuser Law Office, P.A. we have recently brought a claim for penalties for the failure of an insurer and public employer to pay temporary total disability benefits and temporary partial disability benefits after the law enforcement officer separated from the date of injury employer in order to receive PERA Duty Disability benefits. The insurer and employer admitted liability for the injury and is in agreement with the Independent Medical Examiner and treating physician’s restrictions for the employee. The employer and insurer refuses to pay despite the definitive case law on this issue under Boutto v. U.S. Steel Corp. (July 18, 2007 WC06-288).

2. Non-specific Denial of Liability

Similar to penalties for frivolous denial of liability, under Minnesota Statute 176.84 insurers must issue specific and clear reasons that the adjuster is denying the injury. The penalty for a non-specific denial of liability is $500 each violation.

3. Late Payments of Benefits

Insurers and employers are also required to make timely payment of benefits under Minnesota Statute § 176.221, subdivision 1. An employee’s first temporary total disability payment must be issued the 14th day after the first day of an employee’s disability or the date the employer received notice, whichever is later. The employee may be awarded 25% of the delayed benefits.

4. Obstructing an Employee’s Minnesota Work Comp Benefits

Under Minnesota Statute §176.82, subdivision 1, an insurer or an employer who fires or threatens to fire an employee for making a claim for workers’ compensation benefits is liable for civil damages in addition to workers’ compensation benefits owed. This violation also includes costs and reasonable attorney fees in addition to punitive damages three times the amount of any compensation benefits to which an employee is owed.

This violation may be difficult to prove but if an employee is able to offer concrete evidence, for example text messages, letter, or a saved voicemail with the employer threatening to fire the employee for filing a work comp claim, may be persuasive.

5. Refusing to Offer Continued Employment

Under Minnesota Statute §176.82, subdivision 2, an employer who has work available with the employee’s physical restrictions must offer continued employment. If an employer does not have reasonable cause to continue to offer suitable employment is liable for one year of the employee’s wages in a civil lawsuit. Employers with less than 15 full-time employees are exempt from this statute.

6. Failure to Ensure

An uninsured employer may also be fined by the Department of Labor and Industry for failure to insure employees for workers’ compensation injuries, regardless if any employee has been injured. An employer may be required to pay a penalty up to $1,000 per employee per week for the time period the employee was not insured.

7. Failure to Pay Settlement Award

After the parties agree to a settlement and the settlement is set forth in the stipulation for settlement, a workers’ compensation judge must review and then issue an award on stipulation, which is a court-order dictating what the employer and insurer must pay. The employer and insurer must issue payment within 14 days of the award or be subject to fines.

If you believe you may be entitled to penalties under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act or have a workers’ compensation claim, contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. for a free no-obligation case evaluation. Call us today at 877-746-5680.

Mary Beth Boyceby Mary Beth
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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

I Was Injured Commuting to or From Work. Am I Covered Under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act?

The general rules is, you will not be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you were commuting to or from work at the time you were injured; however, there are a few exceptions to this rule.

In Minnesota, the general rule is that workers’ compensation benefits are available to employees who sustain injuries “while engaged in, on, or about the premises where the employee’s services require the employee’s presence as a part of that service at the time of the injury and during the hours of that service.”  Minn. Stat. § 176.011, subd. 16.

One exception to what is often referred to as the “coming and going” rule is the responsibility of the employer to provide its employees with a safe ingress to or egress from the employment premises. To fall within this exception, an employee must show that the injured occurred within the following criteria:

1) Before or after the workday
2) On an area that is considered a party of the employer’s premises
3) Within a customary route of ingress and egress

For example, if an employee falls, and is injured due to snow and ice the employer’s parking lot a few minutes after clocking out, this injury would likely be compensable. If the same injury occurred on the state-owned sidewalk in front of the employer’s premises, this injury would likely not be compensable.

One other factor that courts take into consideration is whether the employee was “engaged in activity reasonably incidental to her employment” at the time of the injury. For example, if a bartender clocks out but chooses to “hang out” at the bar, have drinks and socialize for an hour before leaving and sustaining an injury in the employer’s parking lot, this would not be a compensable injury because the employee was no longer engaged in an activity reasonably incidental to his or her employment.

The second exception to the “coming and going” rule is employer-furnished transportation. When the employer regularly furnishes transportation to employees to and from the place of employment, and the employee is injured during transport, the employee’s injury is compensable under Minnesota workers’ compensation laws.

The third exception to the “coming and going” rule is travel between two work places. One of these work sites could be the employee’s home if a portion of the employee’s work is performed at home. Therefore, situations may arise in which an injury that occurs during the trip between the employee’s home and his employer’s premises falls within the scope of workers’ compensation coverage. The most important factor when analyzing this exception is whether the employee’s conduct at the time he or she sustained an injury was connected with the demands or obligations of his or her employment.

Lastly, if the employment requires travel, injuries sustained by the employee may be compensable if the injury occurs in the course of a business trip. The portion of this exception that is often the subject litigation is: “What does it mean to be in the course of a business trip?” To prove an employee was in the course of a business trip, the employee must show that the trip furthered the employer’s interest, the employee received complete or partial reimbursement for travel expenses or the employee received wages for the time spent traveling. However, if the employee deviates from the employer’s business during the course of the trip and engages in a “personal mission,” workers’ compensation benefits can be denied. An example of a personal mission is visiting a romantic partner or watching the football game at a bar for recreational purposes.

Don’t wait to get an attorney involved if you have a Minnesota workers’ compensation claim. As this article illustrates, this area of the law is nuanced and complex. The attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. will help ensure that you receive all the benefits to which you’re entitled. Contact Meuser Law Office, P.A. for a free no-obligation consultation and claim evaluation. Call us today at 1-877-746-5680.

Ashley Biermannby Ashley Biermann
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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mounted Police Officers and Workers’ Compensation Injuries

In the state of Minnesota, the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth maintain mounted patrol units. The Minnesota Sheriff’s Mounted Posse Association (MSMPA) is comprised of volunteer and reserve units of mounted deputy sheriffs across the state who assist the County Sheriff whenever appropriate. Mounted patrol units help with crowd control, crime control, search and rescue, and community outreach. It is estimated that one mounted police officer has the effect of ten officers on foot. Horses provide size, weight, and every officer is 10 feet tall on horseback, enhancing visibility. Mounted police officers can travel quickly to places that squad cars cannot travel.

Unfortunately, while performing crowd control duties on horseback can increase safety for officers and the public, horseback riding is still a dangerous activity. Although the horses used in mounted patrol units are chosen for their temperament and suitability for the job, horses are still animals who can react unpredictably in unknown situations. Even the sweetest most docile horse can trip, fall to the ground and inadvertently crush a rider.

To ensure safety, officers should follow certain precautions:
  • Safety equipment. Wearing a helmet can prevent very serious head injuries. There’s no excuse for not wearing a helmet while riding.
  • Wearing a helmet when working with horses while on the ground is also important. Loading and unloading horses into a trailer can be a very dangerous situation. While horses in the mounted patrol unit may be loaded and un-loaded multiple times a week, working with a 1,100-pound animal in a small space is hazardous. Turning out a horse at night back into the herd can also be dangerous. Some horses like other horses better than others and if you turn out into a group of horses standing near the gate and another horse bites the horse you are working with he may kick out and may even hurt you.
  • Wearing a helmet while walking out to the pasture to catch a horse is also a smart precautionary measure. Sometimes horses may gather around you and get pushy, hoping the human has a treat or looking for attention. A horse could nip another horse and then someone could kick out or knock you down out in the field. Horses can strike out with their front or back hooves.
  • Wear proper footwear around horses. Getting stepped on in boots versus flip flops is an entirely different experience.
  • Don’t stand directly behind a horse. Talk to the horse when you are working with him or her to let the horse know where you are standing and to prevent startling the horse.
  • Don’t loop a lead line, reins, or lunge lines around your hands. If the horse runs away you could become caught and dragged.
  • Properly lead a horse into its stall. When returning a horse to its stall don’t just unclip the lead line from his halter, lead the animal into the stall, walk around the stall, turn him to face the stall door and then back out. This prevents you from getting crushed or kicked in a confined space.
  • Tack and groom in the same way each time. This creates a pattern so it is less likely a crucial step is forgotten. Check and re-check girth tightness before you mount. Girths should be tightened slowly and each time the horse should be walked around before moving up an additional hole.
If you sustain an injury, even one which may seem minor at the time, it is important to report the injury to your supervisor. Waiting a few days after what seemed to be a sprain or strain and then reporting the injury may give the workers’ compensation insurance carrier an excuse to deny your claim.

Contact an attorney early in the process. At Meuser Law Office, P.A. we field calls from many police officers and deputy sheriffs injured in the line of duty who may just need a few questions answered. Call us today at 877-746-5680 for a free no-obligation consultation with an experienced Minnesota personal injury, PERA disability, and workers' compensation attorney.

For more information on mounted patrol units in Minnesota check out the following websites:

Mary Beth Boyceby Mary Beth
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