Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Your PTSD May Be Considered A Work Related Injury In Minnesota Beginning October 1, 2013.

For years, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was NOT a compensable or payable workers compensation claim in Minnesota even where all parties agreed the condition was related to a work injury.  This changed effective October 1, 2013 and in many situations your PTSD may be found to be work related.

What is PTSD?

When someone feels in danger, it’s a natural response to feel afraid. This fear triggers multiple split second changes in the body to prepare to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. But in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the individuals reaction is changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger.

PTSD develops after a terrifying ordeal that involved physical harm or the threat of physical harm. The person who is diagnosed with PTSD may have been the one who was harmed, the harm may have happened to a loved one, or the person may have witnessed a harmful event that happened to loved ones or even strangers.

What are some symptoms of PTSD?  

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are three primary categories for PTSD.

1. Re-experiencing symptoms
  • Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
  • Bad dreams
  • Frightening thoughts.
2. Avoidance symptoms
  • Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry
  • Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
  • Having difficulty remembering the dangerous event.
3. Hyperarousal symptoms
  • Being easily startled
  • Feeling tense or “on edge”
  • Having trouble sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.
If you have been diagnosed with PTSD due a work related injury OR incident, you may be entitled to 100% coverage of your medical costs, wage replacement, and vocational assistance in finding new work or paid retraining.  Since the enactment of Minn. Stat. §176.011 in 2013, our firm has represented multiple individuals relative to PTSD claims including a store worker who was robbed at gunpoint and a worker who witnessed a traumatic suicide.  The attorneys of Atkinson Law Office have over 45 years combined experience handling injury and workers compensation claims in Minnesota.  Each attorney has a minimum of over 20 years experience and are widely recognized as experts in our fields.  Experience matters!  Contact our office today for a free consultation at 651-333-3636.  We represent clients across the entire state of Minnesota.  Also visit our website at www.mndisability.com for more information.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Planning To Reject A Light Duty Job Offer After A Minnesota Workers Compensation Injury?

No so fast.  If you have sustained a Minnesota Workers Compensation injury and your doctor provides you with work restrictions, an employer may offer you a light duty job until you reach maximum medical improvement and it's determined whether you will have permanent restrictions.  This "light duty" job can be almost anything and can even be with another company.  One of the recent trends in Minnesota workers compensation is to have you work as a volunteer.  Light duty jobs do not need to be even remotely similar to your date of injury job.  A firefighter or carpenter could be placed as a volunteer at a food shelter wiping off tables or serving meals.

There are however some restrictions on light duty jobs.  If your employer and workers compensation insurer offer you a light duty job it's important that you speak with a workers compensation attorney immediately.  At Atkinson Law Office, you will NEVER be charged a fee and your consultation will always be free.  Every one of our expert workers compensation attorneys at Atkinson Law Office has over 22 years of experience in litigation and when you are choosing the best workers compensation attorney, experience matters!  Call us today for a free consultation 651-333-3636.  We represent clients across the state of Minnesota who have sustained work injuries.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Minnesota Workers Compnsation Secrets From An Expert.

You have sustained a Minnesota work related injury.  You may live in St. Paul, Minneapolis, Duluth, Worthington, International Falls or perhaps you don't even live in Minnesota.  Our lawyers have handled thousands of workers compensation cases over the past 20 years.  During this time we have gained valuable insight and secrets that insurance companies hope you don't find out.  How did we find out these secrets?  Our lawyers are former insurance company attorneys and many of our staff members are former insurance company employees, including work comp claims adjusters.  Some of our staff and lawyers have themselves sustained work related injuries for which they also had to fight insurance companies for their benefits.  With our insider information and first hand experience we have compiled a list of secrets very few if any law firms can share.  Below are some of the secrets we will share.
  • You do NOT need to sign a blanket employment and medical release for insurance companies in all cases. 
  • Insurance companies will often have their staff nurses and doctors call your physicians and try to convince them to limit your treatment and lift your restrictions.  You can refuse to allow this.
  •  Nurse case managers are NOT neutral.  They work solely for the insurance company to limit your treatment and rush your return to work.  You can prohibit them from working on your file.
  • You have the right to chose the QRC.  Some QRCs are actually employee's of the insurance company.  Can they really be neutral?  You can and MUST chose your own QRC.
These are just some of the Secrets From A Former Insurance Company Attorney we can share with you online.  Contact attorneys Tom Atkinson or Kerry Atkinson to schedule a free consultation to learn even more secrets.  There is never a fee unless we recover benefits for you.  Visit our website at www.mndisability.com or call 651-333-3636 today.

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