Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Gillette Injuries in Workers’ Compensation: A Quick Guide

It is well known that a sudden or violent injury at work results in a compensable workers’ compensation claim. If you are a police officer, this could mean hurting your back when you are trying to control a resisting suspect. If you are a firefighter, this could mean stepping off of the rig during an emergency call and re-injuring your knee. These types of “sudden” injuries are called specific injuries under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act and are compensable.

Compare the “specific injuries” described above with the lesser-known Gillette injury. A Gillette injury is named after the case that established it as a compensable injury under the Workers’ Compensation Act. It is an injury that occurs over the course of time as a result of a repetitive minute trauma brought about by the performance of ordinary job duties. Gillette injuries are common in jobs or positions that require a high degree of physical labor, such as police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), corrections officers, mechanics, metal finishers, truck drivers, painters, roofers or construction workers. It is common for employees working in any of these positions to develop painful back, neck, shoulder, or knee conditions simply from performing their job duties. With either type of injury, depending on the unique circumstances of your case, you are entitled to the same benefits under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act, such as:

Wage loss
Medical care and treatment
Retraining benefits

How do you establish a Gillette injury?

To prove that you sustained a Gillette injury on the job and are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in the state of Minnesota, you must prove that a causal connection exists between your work duties and your disability. In practice, this means that you need medical support either in the form of clear medical records linking your condition to your work duties or in the form of a narrative report from your doctor, which indicates that your condition was aggravated or accelerated by your work duties. Either way, medical evidence is key.

Which date should I use for a Gillette injury?

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to determining a date of injury in these cases. In fact, there may be a number of dates that could be used to represent the date of disablement for a Gillette injury—such as the date you first sought medical treatment, the date you were first issued work restrictions or your job duties changed, the date you first missed time from work, or the date of an MRI scan providing a “definitive diagnosis” for your injury. A judge is not bound to use the date of injury provided by you, your attorney or the defense attorney in cases involving a Gillette injury. Rather, at trial, a judge will determine the date of injury by looking at all of the relevant evidence and determine what makes the most sense under the circumstances of the case.

In Anfinson v. Anamax Corp. the Court determined that the last date of employment was the date of the employee’s Gillette type injury, even though the employee did not miss time from work, have medical treatment, nor changed jobs as a result of the medical condition. slip. op., No. WC09-4976 (W.C.C.A. Mar. 8, 2010). Recently the court found that when an employee’s condition did not cause symptoms until some time after his last date of employment, the date of disablement can be established as the last date of employment. See Wittstock v. McPhilips Bros. Roofing Co., slip op. No. WC12-5471 (W.C.C.A. Jan. 9, 2013).

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.

Ashley Biermannby Ashley Biermann
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