Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Workers Compensation Benefits Were Suddenly Stopped. What Can I Do?

Attorney Thomas Atkinson has authored numerous articles on the subject of the receipt of Notices of Intent to Discontinue (NOID) Workers Compensation benefits by injured workers in articles published in my blog and national publications such as The American Bar Association Journal and US Law Blog.

At Minnesota Disability and Atkinson Law Offices we believe that your receipt of a NOID signals the single most important time for injured workers to contact an attorney. Neither Tom nor any other Minnesota attorney will charge you a fee for merely discussing this document. If you are an injured working currently receiving wage loss benefits YOU WILL RECEIVE a NOID in your mailbox within the next few months guaranteed! When you receive the NOID you have very little time to act to preserve your right to receive ongoing wage loss benefits. These documents usual follow an “independent medical examination” or return to work slip obtained by pressuring a treating physician to return you work.

Remember that release you signed allowing the insurer to contact your health care providers, well the “nurse case manager” employed by the insurance company earns his/her job by getting you released finished with treatment and returned to work as fast as they can. You should NEVER allow a nurse case manager to assist with your file. They have no right to interfere with your doctor/patient relationship.

As soon as the Notice of Intent to Discontinue Benefits arrives in your mailbox you need to contact an experienced workers compensation attorney who limits their practice to workers compensation matters. Tom Atkinson has the number of the Minnesota Department of Labor employee who sets conferences to contest NOIDs on the speed dial of his phone! Tom will arrange for an expedited conference to your discontinuance action immediately. Contact Tom Atkinson at 651-324-9514 or email me at Feel free to visit my website at

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I Have A Spinal Cord Injury Because Of A Work Injury. What Can Be Done To Help Me.

Spinal cord injury cases can involve significant costly damages both medically and monetarily. It is extremely important that the injured party receive proper representation by an experienced workers compensation attorney familiar with these injuries. In the past Atkinson Law Offices and Minnesota Disability have represented individuals with serious spinal cord injuries including quadriplegic spinal cord injuries.

In serious accidents the spinal cord can be damaged, anywhere from the neck down through the lower back. The spinal cord is designed to transmit both feeling and control between the brain and the rest of our body. If a traumatic event damages the spinal cord, communication between the brain and other parts of the body can be cut off, resulting in varying levels of paralysis and loss of function. These injuries can be devastating to the injured party and his or her loved ones.

Spinal cord injuries fall into two category types, complete and incomplete. A complete injury is associated with the total loss of function below the level of injury. In such cases there is no sensation, nor voluntary movement below the level of injury. An incomplete injury is characterized by partial function below the level of injury. An individual suffering from incomplete paralysis can experience an array of symptoms including partial voluntary control, feeling in areas that cannot be controlled voluntarily, or the ability to control one side of the body and not the other.

How an individual’s body is affected by a spinal cord injury is generally dependent on the level of injury. Typically, the higher up a spinal injury occurs, the more widespread the effect on the body. Usually, cervical (neck) injuries result in quadriplegia, involving loss of function in both the upper and lower extremities. Injuries above the C-4 vertebrae may even require use of a ventilator to assist with breathing. C-5 injuries can result in retention of shoulder and upper arm control, but a lack of control in the lower arm and hands. C-7 injuries usually allow some level of control in the hand and fingers despite problems with dexterity.

Lower level spinal damage that occurs in the thoracic level and below can result in paraplegia. Paraplegia is generally associated with the loss of use of the legs. However, paraplegia can also result in a myriad of other conditions including: poor muscle control in the trunk, dysfunction of the bowel and bladder, sexual dysfunction, blood pressure problems, inability to properly regulate body temperature, and chronic pain.

Finally, spinal cord injuries can result as a consequence to admitted cervical thoracic and lumbar back injuries. Occasionally during surgery damage can result to he cord or main nerves. The resulting damage is also considered a work injury as long as the underlying treatment is work related. If you sustain a work related spinal cord injury, attorney Thomas Atkinson is ready to assist you provide you with advice and recommendations to assist you with your recovery. Workers compensation benefits including nursing services, reimbursement for family care, home remodeling and other benefits are reimbursable under Minnesota’s Workers Compensation statute. Contact Tom at 651-3224-9514 or You can also visit his website at

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Are Accidents Away From Work Payable Under Minnesota Workers Compensation?

ABSOLUTELY YES!  Occasionally, work-related accidents occur while you are not physically on the work premises. Minnesota law mandates that if you sustain an injury away from the work site, you may still have the same rights as if the injury occurred on the employer's premises. If you are injured while; traveling for work related business, on your way to a work meeting, traveling to or from a work site, or even participating in a after hours work event with clients or customers, Minnesota workers compensation laws hold that the injury is in the course and scope of your employment.

At the Law Offices of Thomas Atkinson and Minnesota Disability I help injured workers recover rightful benefits following an accident away from work. Contact me, Tom Atkinson to speak with an experienced Minnesota Workers Compensation lawyer with nearly two decades of experience.

Though my practice is limited to workers compensation and disability matters, I have partnered with extremely effective personal injury lawyers to ensure that you receive all of your workers compensation benefits while also pursuing negligent parties following all types of accidents away from work, such as:

* Slip and fall accidents away from work: such as workers injured from falling down the stairs in a home in which repairs are being made (cable repairs, utility repairs, etc.) or a delivery person who trips over a dog leash on the porch steps

* Dog bites/animal attacks away from work: such as a delivery person or lawn service person attacked by a dog or a construction subcontractor attacked while replacing the dining room cabinets in a home

* Car/truck accidents away from work: such as a garbage truck driver or delivery truck driver injured in a truck accident while performing job duties or any other employee involved in a car accident in the scope of employment

Whether an injury is sustained while lifting boxes in the warehouse or in a car accident while running an errand for your boss - Minnesota workers’ compensation laws govern all work-related injuries. Generally, people who sustain on-the-job injuries may only seek compensation for medical expenses, wage loss, permanent partial disability, vocational retraining and other expenses by pursuing a workers' compensation. However, when an accident occurs away from work, there are often additional claims against at-fault parties other than your employer, which may be pursued.

By partnering with very well respected personal injury attorneys I help clients understand their rights and pursue the full compensation they need and deserve. When workers' compensation benefits are paid and a third party claim is settled at a later date, I have the experience and skill to effectively negotiate with your employer's insurance company so that minimal workers' compensation benefits are paid back. Creative discussions have resulted in significant reductions or even waivers of these claims for repayment.

If you have sustained an injury away from work, contact attorney Thomas Atkinson of Atkinson Law Offices and Minnesota Disability for a FREE consultation. Under Minnesota Workers Compensation laws, an attorney may NOT charge a retainer and can only collect a fee from the employer and workers compensation insurer if they assist you in recovering benefits. Contact attorney Tom Atkinson today at 651-324-9514 or email at Also visit his website at

Monday, June 1, 2009

Minnesota Workers Compensation Tools, Rules and Guidelines

Have you ever been puzzled by the abbreviations and acronyms used by your attorneys discussing your workers compensation benefits? Below I have listed some common workers’ compensation abbreviations and the meanings:

TTD: TEMPORARY TOTAL DISABILITY. Workers compensation wage loss benefits available to injured workers who are off work completely due to their injuries.

TPD: TEMPORARY TOTAL DISABILITY. Workers’ compensation wage loss benefits available to injured workers who are working at a wage loss due to their injuries.

PTD: PERMANENT TOTAL DISABILITY. Workers’ compensation wage loss benefits available to injured workers who are completely and totally disabled from returning to substantial gainful employment as the result of their work injuries. This term does not necessarily mean FOREVER, just for an indefinite period of time.

PPD: PERMANENT PARTIAL DISABILITY. Workers’ compensation monetary benefits available to workers who have suffered a permanent injury.

MMI: MAXIMUM MEDICAL IMPROVEMENT. The date after which no further significant recovery from or significant lasting improvement to a personal injury can reasonably be anticipated, based upon reasonable medical probability, irrespective and regardless of subjective complaints of pain

QRC: QUALIFIED REHABILIATION COUNSELOR. A QRC provides rehabilitation services to workers who are unable to return to their pre-injury employment.

NOID: NOTICE OF INTENT TO DISCONTINUE. A specific form filed by an insurer or employer when they intend to discontinue an injured workers’ benefits. YOU ARE STRONGLY URGED TO CONTACT AN ATTORNEY AS SOON AS YOU RECEIVE THIS NOTICE IN THE MAIL!

NOPLD: Notice of Primary Liability Determination. A specific form filed by an insurer or employer indicating its initial decision regarding its liability for an injured workers’ claim.

FROI: First Report of Injury. A specific form that an employer must fill out following an injury.

RCD: Request for Certification of Dispute. A specific form filed by an employee or their attorney to certify a dispute regarding medical or rehabilitation services.

SOAF: Statement of Attorney Fees. A petition filed by an employee’s attorney for approval of attorney’s fees in some cases.

NOA: Notice of Appearance of Attorney. Notice filed with the Department of Labor and Industry notifying the Department that an attorney is involved with a workers’ compensation case.

NOBP: Notice of Benefit Payment. A form filed by the workers’ compensation insurance company indicating payment of benefits.

WC: Workers’ Compensation.

WCCA: Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals.

WID: Worker ID Number. New in 2008, the Minnesota Department of Labor begins replacing social security numbers with WID numbers. A WID number is assigned to workers in lieu of using the worker’s Social Security Number for purposes of identification.

AWW: AVERAGE WEEKLY WAGE. Used to calculate the amount of wage loss benefits an injured worker is entitled to.

SAWW: Statewide Average Weekly Wage. Used to calculate the maximum compensation rate.

EE: Employee.

EER or ER: Employer.

IR: Insurer.

TPA: Third-Party Administrator. Work comp. insurers frequently use TPA’s to administer their workers’ compensation programs.

FCE: Functional Capacity Evaluation or Examination. An evaluation to determine an injured workers’ capacity for physical activities.

IVE: Independent Vocational Evaluation or Examination. An evaluation to determine an injured workers’ vocational abilities.

RTW: Return to work.

PT: Physical Therapy.

ROM: Range of Motion.

TBD: To be determined.

DOI: Date of injury.

DOL: Date of loss.

OAH: Office of Administrative Hearings. In Minnesota the main offices are in St. Paul and Duluth.

DOLI: Department of Labor and Industry.

SSDI: Social Security Disability Insurance.

IME: INDEPENDENT MEDICAL EXAMINATION. An examination conducted by a doctor hired by the employer or workers’ compensation insurance company. The examination should actually be called an ADVERSE EXAMINATION given there is nothing independent about it. This doctor is NOT your treating doctor and is a hired “gun” by the employer and insurance company.

ADR: Alternative Dispute Resolution, including mediation or arbitration.

At Minnesota Disability and Atkinson Law Offices, Attorney Thomas Atkinson will gladly answer any of your workers compensation questions. With nearly two decades of workers compensation experience, including years an attorney for the same insurance companies denying your benefits, he can help you maneuver the system to your advantage. Contact him at 651-324-9514 or visit