Sunday, April 6, 2014

Do You Have To Attend A Minnesota Workers Compensation Independent Medical Examinations?

"Independent Medical Examinations" are never independent.  As my friends from the Olympia Washington law firm WWO Law demonstrate in the video they created, most IME doctors have an agenda.  First an foremost to supplement their income by conducting hundreds of exams a year.  One doesn't have to be a work comp expert to realize IME physician have a monetary interest to find NO work injury or a temporary injury at best. 

Though I only represent injured workers, I'm a former insurance company attorney.  IME's are set up by work comp insurance adjusters with the sole purpose to deny or limit your Minnesota workers compensation benefits.  Unfortunately Minnesota law requires that you attend your independent medical examination if it is within 150 miles of your home.  The insurance company must pay for your travel to and from the examination.  When you arrive at the examination do NOT fill out any paperwork other than provide your identification.  Be polite and respectful even though you know this doctor is likely to misrepresent the extent of your injuries and perhaps even outright lie.  If you have a well experienced workers compensation attorney he/she will be familiar with the doctor and know how to attack the doctor's credibility.  We may have even deposed the doctor previously or have past workers compensation decisions where the IME doctor was found not credible.

Minnesota workers compensation is a complex area of law that general practitioners, personal injury attorneys and young lawyers with pretty websites occasionally think they can handle.  The truth is that it takes many years to become familiar with the laws, opposing attorneys, judges and independent medical examiners.  At Atkinson Law Office we specifically limit our practice to workers compensation and have done so for over 20 years.  We offer free consultations and you will never pay a fee unless we obtain benefits for you.  Visit our website at www.mndisabiilty.com or call us from across the state of Minnesota at 651-333-3636

Monday, March 10, 2014

You Just Suffered A Work Related Rotator Cuff Injury. What Should You Do Now?

There are many different types of shoulder injuries but as with all injuries, you need to report your injury to your supervisor or manager immediately.  Then seek medical attention and PLEASE for your sake tell everyone you see at the hospital or clinic how the injury happened at work.  Document, document, document! If you are given work restrictions, save a copy for yourself and give a copy to your employer. 

There are three common shoulder injuries; rotator cuff, tendonitis and dislocation.  This article will deal with rotator cuff tears.


Rotator Cuff Tear

The rotator cuff is made of muscles and tendons that hold the shoulder in place.  A rotator cuff injury, such as a tear, may happen suddenly such as when falling onto an outstretched arm or develop over time with repetitive activities.  The later is referred to as a Gillette injury in Minnesota.  Both of these claims are compensable Minnesota workers compensation injuries.

There are many common symptoms of a rotator cuff tear though injured workers may experience symptoms differently.  The most customary symptoms often include:
  • recurring pain especially with common activities
  • difficulty sleeping on the injured side due to pain
  • grating or cracking sounds with movement of the arm
  • difficulty moving your arm
  • noticeable arm weakness
If you have sustained a work related rotator cuff tear or injury contact Atkinson Law Office and Minnesota Disability immediately.  We can advise you of your rights for FREE.  You have the right to wage replacement, you can choose your own doctor, you are entitled to wage loss benefits, and more.  For your free consultation call 651-333-3636 today.  We represent clients across the entire state of Minnesota and those outside of our state who suffered injuries while working for Minnesota employers.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Should You Choose A Minnesota Workers Compensation Attorney Based On A Website?


NO.  Let me emphasize this; absolutely NOT.  Websites are useful to obtain answers to some of your questions and to get a sense of the law firm but you really need to look for answers to the following questions and if you don't find them, BEWARE.

Questions & Answers

1.  Does the lawyer or law firm specialize in Minnesota workers compensation?  

Minnesota does not recognize a "specialty" in workers compensation but out of the few hundred lawyers that attempt to handle workers compensation, only a few limit their practice to work comp.  These people are known affectionately as "comp heads".  If you had a DUI would you trust a lawyer who handles a couple of DUI cases a year, in addition to drafting wills, handling personal injury cases and doing the occasional divorce?  Then why would you want a lawyer whose website promises to handle you with any legal issue you may have or is a general "personal injury" attorney.

2.  How many years has the lawyer been practicing law?

Experience matters.  There is a prominent  law firm that advertises on radio, television and the internet with approximately 4 lawyers.  The firms "work comp lawyers" have a total combined legal experience of just over 10 years total.  That's an average of 2.5 years each.  They are very nice people, but if you've just sustained a work injury...would they really be the ones' to call?  Who is supervising these lawyers?  I don't think a workers compensation judge in our state would even recognize the lawyer whose last name graces the firm's letterhead if he walked into a workers compensation court.  Another lawyer on the internet advertises himself as "The authority for workers compensation in Minnesota for more than 30 years".  Really? Up until last year I had never heard of him and I know EVERY single workers compensation lawyer across then entire state of Minnesota...and they know me.  Ask the lawyer; "How many years have you been licensed to practice law?" Next ask, "How many years have you been practicing exclusively workers compensation?"  I have over 21 years experience practicing exclusively Minnesota workers compensation.  If your lawyer doesn't have significant workers compensation experience RUN and find a lawyer who does.  Experience matters.

3.  Does the lawyer have experience as a defense attorney, insurance adjuster or even as an injured worker?

There are a few excellent lawyers who have only represented injured workers during their career.  I would argue that in some cases, a lawyer with experience as a former defense attorney, workers compensation adjuster or one who has even sustained a contested workers compensation injury brings an entirely different perspective and skills to a case.  Having been a defense attorney for nearly 15 years before opening my firm and limiting my practice to injured workers, I'm able to share secrets I have learned from the insurance companies.  Why they deny claims, how the evaluate settlement, what are the weaknesses of their medical experts.  Having sustained a work related back injury requiring surgery, I also understand first hand the fear and anxiety associated with work injuries.  Experience matters.

4.  Does the lawyer have a true team to support them? 

Is your lawyer supported by his wife who answers his calls, sorts the mail and types the letters?  Does the lawyer have employees with any relevant personal workers compensation experience?  Does the lawyer even have a "team".  Atkinson Law Office has investigators and paralegals with real relevant experience.  One of our members is a former workers compensation adjuster with a specialty in construction related injuries.  Another member has undergone 2 low back surgeries after falling off a ladder at her prior employer.  Both attorneys Kerry Atkinson and Tom Atkinson are FORMER insurance company lawyers who know the secrets that insurance companies don't want you to know.  Because we are often in court or depositions, our staff works as a team to assist you with answers to your questions.  You are free to contact ANY of our staff to assist you should another member be unavailable at the time of your call.  Our combined experiences have combined to create one of the most formidable workers compensation law firms in Minnesota.  Experience matters.

5.  Has the lawyer ever been disciplined? 

 Lawyers can make mistakes, but when they make serious mistakes they can be disciplined by the Minnesota Supreme Court.  This link will assist you searching your lawyers background.




Saturday, January 25, 2014

Have You Sustained A Work Related Knee Injury? Then Hire One Of Minnesota's Superlawyers!


I have handled hundreds of cases involving work related knee injuries ranging from a sprain to a total knee replacement.  Knee injuries can result from cumulative trauma over time or following a specific injury.   An employee need only prove ONE of the following three; your work caused, aggravate OR accelerated your knee injury.

When you sustain a knee injury, you damage one of the four major ligaments found in your knee.  The most common injury I see is torn cartilage, also known as your meniscus.  More serious injuries involve medial collateral ligament (MCL), the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and less often the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL).
  • ACL injury
    Usually occurs while changing direction rapidly.
  • MCL injury
    Injuries to the MCL are usually caused by a direct blow to the outside of the knee.
  • PCL injury
    The PCL is often injured when a worker receives a blow to the front of the knee or makes a simple misstep.
  • Torn cartilage
    When people talk about torn knee cartilage, they are usually referring to a torn meniscus. The meniscus is a tough, rubbery cartilage that is attached to the knee's ligaments. The meniscus usually tears due to sudden twisting, jumping, or trauma to the knee.  Physical contact is often involved. 
If you sustain a work related knee injury, the attorneys at Atkinson Law Office are waiting to assist you.  Our firm limits their practice to handling Minnesota workers compensation injuries and have over 20 years doing the same.  Let our former insurance company attorneys show you the secrets we have learned.  Call today at 651-333-3636.  We represent clients all over Minnesota.  Your consultation is free and there is never a fee until we recover benefits for you.  www.mndisability.com

Friday, January 3, 2014

I Had A Minnesota Work Related Back and Neck Injury, What Do I Tell My Doctor?

This article is prompted by a phone call I received this afternoon from an existing client with a hand injury who now sustained a more serious back injury a year later.  She was concerned about filing "another work injury" and is hoping her back gets better and she doesn't want to report it to work despite missing a week of work.

She is well intentioned but is making an enormous mistake that I have seen countless times.  If you have a work injury that results in lost time from work or you need to seek medical care then you MUST report it.  It's the law.  Your employer must complete a First Report of Injury because that's the law.  Why is this the law?  To protect YOU the injured worker when the employer later tries to deny the injury or minimize it.  It's true that most back injuries resolve shortly after the incident on there own with simple rest, ice, and core strengthening.  But there are times when it doesn't and this action or inaction will greatly hurt your chances for fair treatment by the employer, insurance company and adverse doctors.

When you first see your health care provider, you will be asked questions about your back pain, including how severe it is, how it happened and where it happened.  Tell the doctor clearly and repeatedly where it happened and how it happened. 

Your doctor or chiropractor will try to determine the cause of your back pain and how to best treat it.  The pain will likely get better with simple measures such as ice, medication, physical therapy, and  exercises.  However, some symptoms such as radicular pain down your arms or legs can be immediate signs of a far more serious injury.  Your doctor may order an X-ray, CT Scan, MRI or an EMG to rule out a more serious injury.  This is an excellent time to call a lawyer for a free consultation. 

Please, if you have sustained a neck or back injury at work, tell your supervisor and then see a doctor.  Don't assume your doctor knows you had a work injury.  Tell them directly, don't assume the nurse or intake assistant clearly advised them of the nature of your injury.  Be your own advocate.

If you have sustained a Minnesota work related injury contact attorney Tom Atkinson or Kerry Atkinson today.  Atkinson Law Office and Minnesota Disability have a staff dedicated to assisting Minnesota work injuries.  Kerry and Tom have been working with Minnesota work injuries for over 20 years.  Both Tom and Kerry formerly represented employers and insurers but now only represent employees!  We are waiting to share the secrets they have learned to assist you to win your case.  There is never a fee collected to meet with them nor a fee paid unless there is a recovery.  Your initial consultation is always free as well.  Call today 651-333-3636 and visit our website www.mndisability.com 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

You Are Employed By A Minnesota Employer And You Were Hurt At Work. What Should You Do?

We get this question almost every week.  One of the many concerns employee's have is that they will be considered a "traitor" or no longer a "team player".  Some employees even worry that they could be terminated for reporting a work injury.

If you have suffered a work injury DO NOT give in to the pressure.  You may think the injury will pass so as directed by the supervisor you tell the ER or doctor that the injury happened at home and in exchange the employer promises to cover all your medical bills.  Well that is illegal AND as soon as the condition becomes worse the employer no had documented proof that the injury did not happen at work and you and your doctor are the witnesses.  Please don't lie for your employer.  I have seen so many employees burned by this trick. 

Report the injury to your supervisor, human resources and/or the safety director.  I prefer emails as they create evidence of the notice of injury.   If you need to seek emergency medical attention do that first, but then contact your employer as soon as possible. It's important that you document the nature and extent of your injuries and how the injury occurred.  If there was no "specific injury" be sure to describe you work activity in the days, hours and moments before you notice the symptoms.  If your employer will not complete a First Report of Injury (FROI) form, the attorneys and paralegals at Atkinson Law Office and Minnesota Disability are happy to assist you for FREE.  We can provide you with the proper form, assist you in completing it and then file it with with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.  Feel free to contact us at 651-333-3636 and visit us at our website www.mndisability.com   There is never a fee to meet with us and we only collect a fee if benefits are recovered for you.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Have You Suffered A Work Related Car Accident? Then You Are Entitled To Minnesota Workers Compensation.

Between this past April when we had our last snowfall and today, a lot of people forgot how to drive in Minnesota winters.  With only a few inches of snow this evening, our roads were littered with banged up cars and injured drivers and passengers.  Unfortunately there were 3 car accident related fatalities today around the state of Minnesota related to the the weather.  Many of these accidents involved people performing duties on behalf of their employer and are therefore entitled to Minnesota workers compensation benefits.

Aside from urging everyone to slow down and be more attentive while driving, I also want to remind you that if you were in ANY WAY performing duties or activity on behalf of your employer, your auto accident may be work related.  Were you driving from your office to a meeting?  Were you running an errand for your company or boss?  Were you driving between job sites?  Were you working out of state on a temporary job assignment?  If your answer was "YES" to any of these questions, you may be entitled to unlimited medical coverage, wage replacement benefits, college retraining benefits, and monetary damages for your permanent injury from Minnesota workers compensation system.  Don't assume that your employer or supervisor will advise you of the same.  In a FREE, short conversation with the attorneys of Atkinson Law Office and Minnesota Disability, we can advise you whether you have a work related injury.

We represent clients throughout Minnesota and across the United States who have sustained injuries while driving on Minnesota roads or while traveling outside of Minnesota for their Minnesota employer.  Call the attorneys and staff of Atkinson Law Office and Minnesota Disability today to discuss your car accident.  We can advise you whether your accident is work related and provide you with legal advice pertaining to your workers compensation benefits.  We also work with expert personal injury attorneys who can assist you with the personal injury aspect of your claim.  Call us today at 651-333-3636.  There is NEVER a fee unless we recover benefits for you.  Attorneys Thomas and Kerry Atkinson are waiting to assist you today and represent clients throughout Minnesota.