Saturday, June 30, 2018

But My Minnesota Work Comp Case Is Closed. Usually You Are Wrong!

You know the saying, "if I had a nickel for every time..." someone called thinking their Minnesota workers compensation case was closed I would be a rich man. 

Here are the facts; in Minnesota a workers compensation judge MUST approve any settlement entered into between an insurance company and an injured worker.  If you have never had an attorney it's very unlikely your case is really "closed".  More likely, the insurance adjuster paid your permanent partial disability and closed your case.  In some cases, even though you had an attorney assisting with your claim, your case may also still be open! 

At Atkinson Law Office, we have reopened hundreds of these "closed" cases over the years.  In one instance recently we recovered an additional $200,000 in workers compensation benefits.  The client was astounded and frankly so were we.  How did this happen you may ask?  We were assisting a client with a social security disability application.  In preparing for the application we learned that one of his past back surgeries was work related.  He assumed that because he had an attorney and received a lump sum from the insurance company his case was closed. 

We conducted an investigation and within 2 weeks we learned he never actually settled his work comp case and all of his benefits remained open.  What he thought was a settlement was actually payment of permanent partial disability.  We subsequently filed a claim for permanent total disability arguing successfully that his prior work related back injury was substantially contributing to his inability to work.

Injured workers are entitled to wage loss, vocational assistance, medical benefits and permanent partial disability.  Though we don't have "pain and suffering" we are a no-fault benefit system.  Even if you could be deemed negligent in causing or contributing to your injury you are entitled to full compensation under Minnesota workers compensation laws. 

If you have a new or old workers compensation case, we would be happy to review your file and help you learn about missing benefits and compensation.  Call us at 651-333-3636 and visit our website www.mndisability.com . We have represented thousands of clients throughout Minnesota and across the United States who have sustained Minnesota workers compensation injuries.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Do NOT Hire A Minnesota Work Comp Lawyer Who Is A Poser or Dabbles In The Law

The Minnesota workers compensation bar (the lawyers who regularly practice workers compensation law) is a very small group made up of a few dozen lawyers.  However, there are many more lawyers who handle other types of cases including family law, immigration, bankruptcy and criminal law who occasionally handle a Minnesota workers compensation case.  You may wonder how they can possibly keep up with the ever changing laws in order to properly represent their client.  The answer is they don't and they can't.

The Dabbler

For over 25 years I've practiced exclusively in workers compensation.  Many years ago, I also represented insurance companies and employers; I don't anymore.  I would often come across these "dabbler" lawyers as I called them who would actually ask me to teach them how to handle a work comp case.  In other words, an injured worker's lawyer asked the defense lawyer how to do best represent their client.  It's true, sadly it's true.  How do you think that turned out?  Not well for the client.

The Poser

Workers compensation laws are not uniform for injured workers across Minnesota.  Different dates of injury can result in dramatically different benefits and many lawyers don't know this simple fact.  What often happens is that an injured worker gets a referral from a family friend to a lawyer they know, or are drawn into a pretty website that states "Minnesota's Top Attorneys For Injured Workers".  Often some of these lawyers and law firms rarely, if ever, handle workers compensation cases.  For example, if you are considering representation by Fields Law Office, call the office and ask to speak to Steve Fields.  If you are already represented by Fields Law Office, ask that Steve Fields personally handle your case, attend your deposition and handle your hearing, and let me know how that goes.  Though there are lawyers at Fields that are dabblers, one would think that the firm namesake would regularly or even occasionally handle a workers compensation case himself.  Right?

Experience and personal attention matters.  Don't hire a "dabbler" and don't hire a "poser".  Hire a lawyer who personally handles workers compensation cases day in and day out.  One who meets clients, handles your deposition, and goes to court for you.  The lawyers of Atkinson Law Office are workers compensation Super Lawyers who have been recognized as such because we are experts in the field.  We try cases to hearing, the Workers Compensation Court of Appeals, and the Minnesota Supreme Court.  We are called upon by groups across the state to lecture and speak about workers compensation issues.  If you would like a Super Lawyer to represent you, contact Atkinson Law Office today at 651-333-3636.  


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Has Your Doctor Recommended An Artificial Lumbar Or Cervical Disc For Your Minnesota Workers Compensation Injury?

Having undergone multiple spine surgeries myself, the use of artificial discs in the area of Minnesota workers compensation cases is more than a professional interest for me...it's personal.  I have had multiple cervical and lumbar spine surgeries over the course of 25 years.  During that time, there was no such thing as an artificial disc being used her in Minnesota.  

Over the last decade multiple companies have used a form of artificial disc for both lumbar and cervical surgeries.  What they have learned and I have experienced with or clients, is that they often don't work in the lumbar spine but have been extraordinary successful in the cervical spine.  If you think about it, there is far less weight and stressors on the neck in comparison to the low back.  One of the struggles with a lumbar artificial disc is described in a recent Minnesota Workers Compensation Court of Appeals case I handled.   Our client had an unsuccessful artificial lumbar disc surgery which resulted in him being permanently and totally disabled.  If you would like to read about our victory and the case follow this link.

The Mobi C is the most popular and in my opinion the most successful artificial disc being used today in cervical spine surgeries.  I have spoken on this topic at seminars with a few surgeons in Minnesota including Drs. Mary Dunn and Nick Will (one is a neurosurgeon and the other is an orthopedic surgeon) and they both speak very highly of the Mobi C.  I have had dozens of clients use the Mobi C in the cervical spine and so far, they have experienced excellent results.  Though there is always a risk involving any surgery there seems to be less complications with the Mobi C then in a normal cervical fusion.  Clients have experienced greater neck flexibility, less chance of infection and faster recovery times over a standard fusion.  Below is a video which describes the procedure and the device.



If you have sustained a Minnesota Workers Compensation Injury you should always speak to an experienced workers compensation expert.  You may believe, incorrectly, that everything is being paid properly and you are getting the maximum benefit.  Well, that's rarely the case.  We offer absolutely FREE and no pressure phone or in person meetings to discuss your injury.  We are one of Minnesota's largest and most successful workers compensation law firms.  All of our lawyers have been recognized by our peers and judges as Superlawyers, we have recovered millions of dollars in benefits for our clients every year, and we achieve larger settlements than most firms because the insurance companies know the lawyers at Atkinson Law Office have tried hundreds of cases to hearing and aren't afraid to fight when necessary.  Our phones are answered 24 hours/day, call today 651-333-3636.  We represent Minnesota workers who have have been injured across the entire state and throughout the Unites States.  Atkinson Law Office; we are Minnesota's number one workers compensation law firm.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

My Minnesota Workers Compensation Lawyer Retired, Is My Case Closed? Who Will Help?

Every year a few Minnesota workers compensation attorneys retire or pass away.  In this past year a few lawyers stopped practicing law; Dennis Atchison, Chris Middlebrook, Bill Krueger and Carter Bergen.  These were fine lawyers who did excellent jobs representing their clients and will be missed by their colleagues and clients. 

If your former attorney is no longer practicing law or you are unable to locate him or her Atkinson Law Office is here to assist you.  We have a long reputation assisting the former clients of lawyers who no longer practice workers compensation.  For many years Atkinson Law Office has been chosen by retiring lawyers to handle their practices after retirement.  Just as many esteemed lawyers have trusted Atkinson Law Office, you too can rely on our firm.  We are experts in obtaining and recovering old workers compensation files and settlement papers. 

One of the most common misunderstandings that injured workers have following a work injury is the belief that their case is "settled".  However, upon further investigation only a small part of the case is resolved or settled.  In some cases our research finds that there was never a settlement despite the injured worker's belief that their case settled. 

There is never a charge for us to review your old file or settlement papers to determine what if any claims remain open.  Atkinson Law Office has recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits that were "lost" due to unfortunate misunderstandings. 

If you would like to one of our attorneys to review your olf file, call today at 651-333-3636.  We have lawyers available 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week to help you.  For more information view our website www.mndisability.com .

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Does It Matter Who I See For A Minneapolis Workers Compensation Shoulder Injury?

I've had the opportunity to work with dozens of orthopedic shoulder surgeons across Minnesota but there are some that stand out above the rest.  Hands down my favorite group is the team of shoulder specialists with Sports and Orthopedic Specialists.  I don't have any personal or professional relationship with these surgeons other than the recognition that if my family members needed a shoulder surgery this is the first place I would call.  They are all excellent.

Aren't all surgeons the same you ask?  Well...Not really.  They might all be bright, excellent students in medical school with a commanding understanding of shoulder anatomy but good hands and good judgement are not universal.  Recently I had a former client who sustained an admitted shoulder injury with a new employer.  He was in a huge hurry to get the much needed surgery completed and back to work.  He saw two surgeons; Dr. Michael Freehill with Sports and Orthopedics and another ortho who shall go unnamed.  Dr. Freehill was about 4 weeks out for surgery but the other ortho could operate within the week.  I implored my client to wait but he was a bit head strong and insisted on the unknown ortho.  Today is nearly 6 months following a surgery where the typical expected recovery should have been 3-4 months tops...my client is still nowhere near recovered.  I have bitten my tongue (and he knows I have) but he is returning to see Dr. Freehill to see whether he can help diagnose what went wrong.  Lesson learned the hard way.

Just as it's incredibly important to hire an experienced Minnesota workers compensation expert, it's also incredibility important to treat with the best doctor for your particular injury.  You sustained a Minnesota workers compensation injury...in most instances YOU choose with whom you treat with not the insurance company or employer. Don't necessarily ask your family doctor, ask you friends, relatives and lawyers who have first hand experience with treatment.  I'm always happy to give free advice as well.  Like lawyers, doctors are not all equal!  NOT EQUAL.  Feel free to call me directly; Thomas Atkinson with Atkinson Law Office.  651--333-3636




Thursday, June 15, 2017

New legislation affecting permanent total disability workers compensation claims

The new law applies to:

  • Injured workers with dates of injury before August 13, 2014 (or their dependents and legal heirs) whose permanent total disability (PTD) benefits were offset by government retirement benefits other than Social Security; and
  • Payers that reduced PTD benefits by the injured worker’s non-Social Security government retirement benefits before August 13, 2014.

The new law does not apply to:

  • Injured workers whose last PTD benefits were paid before January 1, 2000;
  • Dependents and legal heirs of deceased injured workers who died before January 1, 2008; and
  • Injured workers where a court allowed the retirement offset, or where a court-approved stipulation for settlement explicitly allowed the retirement offset or closed out all workers’ compensation benefits. (However, the new law does not prevent non-covered injured workers, dependents and legal heirs from pursuing claims for additional PTD benefits based on the decisions.)
  •  above;
  • is subject to litigation brought by injured workers for additional PTD benefits owed; and
  • is subject to penalties assessed by DLI or a compensation judge (depending on the facts) based on the court decisions.

If you or a family member received government disability benefits and made a claim for permanent total disability benefits under the Minnesota Workers Compensation Act, contact the attorneys of Atkinson Law Office immediately to determine whether you have benefits coming to you on your loved one.  The amounts due are often very large and we can help you navigate the claim.  Call 651-333-3636 or visit us at www.mndisability.com today.  


Saturday, March 4, 2017

I Suffered A Minnesota Workers Compensation Injury. Do I Need Back Surgery?

Though I've been a Minnesota workers compensation attorney my entire legal career, that's the very same question I asked myself nearly 20 years ago.  Do I need lumbar spine surgery.

I was injured at work and despite conservative care, my radicular leg and back pain left me unable to sleep and barely able to function.  Over time I grew frustrated, short tempered and frightened about my future.  Despite being a young lawyer, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to do my job given my inability to sit or stand for extended periods of time; a prerequisite to being a trial lawyer.  I was taking narcotic medications that left me fuzzy at best and only took the edge off my pain.  I want to share with you what I've have learned over the past few decades since my injury and lumbar spine surgery.

Over the years I have handled or represented over a thousand cases involving spinal cord injuries.  I'm unique in being the only Minnesota work comp attorney who has sustained a spinal cord work related injury.  In fact, I have undergone three spinal surgeries since 1992.  Lucky me right?  Twentyfive years later spine surgeries have dramatically changed and in most cases improved.  During this time I have seen aggressive use of lumbar and cervical fusions, the introduction of artificial discs, and development of spinal cord stimulators.

Most lawyers are hesitant to offer advice on surgery because they haven't had the same.  Though I'm a workers compensation attorney, I feel obligated to be a "counselor" as well.  I encourage my clients to explore conservative treatment and only enter into the decision of spinal surgery after the same.  I also make sure that they understand that though surgery can relieve their symptoms, in rare situations their conditions could worsen.  I offer the names of physicians and clinics that have a proven track record of having, "good hands, good heads and good hearts".  I consider myself lucky that my surgeries have turned out extraordinarily well.  I am 100% pain free.

I often blog that not all workers compensation attorneys are equal and that experience matters.  This applies to orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons as well.  Like some lawyers I know, a surgeon may come across as confident and a smooth talker.  This doesn't mean they are either good in the courtroom or in the operating room.  Surgeons can be overconfident of their talents and fail to communicate or even know the long term outcome of their surgical patients.  Very few have patient follow up beyond 3-6 months post surgery.  If the patients having ongoing or worsening pain and are non surgical there is usually nothing a surgeon can offer you and they wash their hands with you.  In fact, in many cases the last time you see your surgeon is just before the surgery or while recovering at the surgical center or hospital.  Often follow up care is performed by nurse practitioners or physicians assistants.  Remember; "good hands, good heads and good hearts".  It's rare to find a surgeon with both.

If you sustained a work injury and want to discuss the surgery, I'm happy to sit down with you for free and listen and discuss with you your options.  A decision to undergo surgery is a personal decision and I will never tell you to do the same.  I will simply share with you what I have experienced personally and in the thousands of workers compensation cases I have been involved with over the last 25 years.  With this information you can hopefully make a more informed decision of what is best for you and your family.  Contact us today at 651-333-3636 for a free consultations.  Every single one of our attorneys has been honored as a Superlawyer and is a workers compensation expert.  Visit us at www.mndisability.com for more information.  Also visit our video center for answers to many of your questions.  Our phones are answer 24/7 and in many cases you can talk to a lawyer anytime of the day or night.