Thursday, August 28, 2014
Though the scanned MRI image I have attached to this blog is not my own, it could very well be mine. This image shows both signs of healthy discs, degenerative discs, and herniated discs. Each disc is made of a tough out ring called an annulus and a soft inner core called a nucleus. Think jelly donut.
The white colored top discs are healthy discs. You will note they are what spine surgeons refer to has round, plump "jelly donuts". As we move down we see the 4th disc from the top bulging and the disc below that, a herniation. This is when the "jelly" ruptures out the side of the disc and can impinge on a nerve or the spinal cord resulting in significant injury. The L4, 5 and S1 discs (the lower three) are black or very dark. These represent degenerative discs. In the more extreme cases, the black space is almost gone and the bones appear to be touching. This condition can result in considerable back pain and can in some cases necessitate a fusion surgery.
If you have performed heavy, repetitive lifting activities at work and you develop a disc injury of some kind, please speak to an experience expert Minnesota workers compensation attorney. You may have sustained what is referred to as a Gillette injury and you may be entitled to free medical care, lost wages, permanent injury damages and in some cases retraining. Our consultations are absolutely FREE! There is never a fee unless we recover benefits. Please note that every one of our attorneys as over 20 years of personal injury experience. If you speak to other lawyers ask them how long they have practiced law and how long they have practiced exclusively workers compensation. Their fancy misleading websites can be smoke and mirrors. Contact the work comp experts of Atkinson Law Office today. 651-333-3636 and visit our website at www.mndisability.com
Saturday, August 16, 2014
On August 13th, the Minnesota Supreme Court, reversed the Minnesota Workers Compensation Court of Appeals in the case of Sharyn Hartwig v. Traverse Care Center and denied the ability of insurance companies to force PERA retirement offsets from permanent total disability benefits. The Hartwig decision follows another Court decision indicating that teacher pension benefits may not be used to offset permanent total disability benefits.
How will this affect you case? For most injured workers they are very lucky in never having to explore the issue of permanent total disability benefits. However every year I represent clients who have suffered catastrophic injuries where we bring claims for permanent total disability benefits. In fact, just last week I signed up a client who is clearly PTD and whose employer was encouraging him to file for PERA disability rather than PERA retirement. The outcome of this case will have a dramatic impact on his benefits in the amount of nearly $2,000/month.
Though I say this time and time again, experience matters when choosing a workers compensation attorney. There are attorneys throughout Minnesota who you will find while Google searching on the internet. They often boast and make claims that are misleading at best. One firm calls themselves the largest workers compensation firm in Minnesota when all of their workers compensation lawyers combined have less workers compensation experience than myself and a few other lawyers who practice exclusively workers compensation. We refer to them as "baby lawyers" for a reason. Ask these so called expert lawyers how many years they have been lawyers (some of the people you talk with aren't even lawyers) and then ask how many years have you exclusively handled workers compensation cases. The answers will surprise you.
If you need an expert workers compensation attorney with over 2 decades of experience, contact Atkinson Law Office and Minnesota Disability. Attorney Tom Atkinson is truly recognized as an expert workers compensation attorney and Kerry Atkinson is a State of Minnesota AND National civil litigation specialist certified by the Minnesota State Bar Association and many other organizations. We look forward to assisting you. There is NEVER a fee unless we recover benefits for you. Visit us at www.mndisability.com or call 651-333-3636 today.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
If your employer offers you light duty work, it may take many forms. It may be your date of injury job with the elimination of any restricted activities; it may be working in an entirely new temporary position with your employer in another company location or it may be with an entirely different company whereby you are outsourced to perform light duty work. Yes, you read that right. Your employer may outsource you to an entirely different company performing job duties that you have never ever performed. In most cases, all of the above examples are usually temporary.
When a client is offered light duty work, I often want his/her QRC to check that the job is truly light duty as outlined by the doctor. Often an employer will promise to offer light duty work, tell the employee to "follow their restrictions" but then give them work which they know will NOT actually allow the injured worker to follow the doctors restrictions...and blame YOU the injured worker for not following the restrictions.
I strongly encourage my clients to try the light duty job offer. Whether for months, weeks or in some cases for only a few hours. Often your physician will provide you with what they think are your likely restrictions but this is really an educated guess at best. If you try the work and you have significant ongoing issues performing the tasks or develop severe pain, immediately return to your physician. The doctor may modify your restrictions or take you back off of work. If your doctor will NOT modify your restrictions, please talk with an attorney before you "doctor shop" for a second opinion. In some cases the QRC can help facilitate a better understanding by your doctor of the problems associate with your pain issues and the work.
Finally, you should be aware that if you begin working a temporary light duty job and your take home pay decreases because of a lower wage or inability to perform overtime, you may be entitled to compensaiton for your wage loss. We call this temporary partial disability and it is 2/3rds of the difference between your "average weekly wage" on your date of injury and your current earnings. The lawyers in our office would be happy to explain this rule free of charge.
If you have been given "light duty" work restrictions by your doctor, chiropractor or health care professional we strongly urge you to call the expert Minnesota workers compensation attorneys with Atkinson Law Office today. There is never a fee unless we recover benefits for you and you will never pay our office directly regardless of outcome. www.mndisability.com or 651-333-3636
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
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.
- 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.
- Being easily startled
- Feeling tense or “on edge”
- Having trouble sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
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
- 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.
Sunday, April 6, 2014
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