Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I Think I Have A Work Injury. How Long Can I Wait To Bring A Claim?

If you have been injured at work OR believe that your work activities have caused, aggravated or accelerated an injury (even a pre-existing non work injury), time is your enemy.  Recent Minnesota Workers Compensation court decisions state that when you believe you have been injured at work, the clock begins to tick even though a doctor may not necessarily support your belief.  You may have to file a claim before you have obtained a narrative medical report just to prevent the "statute of limitations" lapse on your claim.  We can provide you with the information on filing the claim while you obtain firm support for you claim.  Though the initial medical records may be vague or unclear, often times medical specialists are just as clueless about the rules on "causation" as you the injured worker.

Contacting an experienced workers' compensation attorney such as those at Atkinson Law Office and Minnesota Disability for a free consultation is an excellent first step.  Thomas Atkinson has over 2 decades of experience in workers compensation matters having formerly represented insurance companies and now limiting his practice to representing injured workers.  Thomas has received numerous recognitions by his peers, spoken at many continuing legal educations seminars, counseled other lawyers in the area of workers compensation, and even been hired to provided expert testimony on the proper handling of workers compensation claims.  Let Thomas share with you the workers compensation secrets that the insurance companies want to hide from you. 

If you have been injured it's very, very important that you call for a FREE consultation.  Atkinson Law Office, P.A will help you determine whether you have a claim or even assist you in obtaining the medical support you need to prove your injury.  Contact our office today at 651-333-3636 or visit our website for more information.  www.mndisability.com

Sunday, November 4, 2012

What Is A Qualified Rehabilitation Counselor QRC And How Do I Get One?

What is a QRC?  Qualified Rehabilitation Consultants, also known as a QRCs, are licensed by the state of Minnesota to provide vocational rehabilitation services to injured workers.   You are told that QRC’s are supposed to work in the interests of both the employee and the employer, but you will find that many QRC’s are not truly “independent.”

Most injured workers have an insurance company assigned QRC.  Usually everything starts out fine.  However, the longer you are off of work the sooner you will begin to notice Dr. Jekyll turn into Mr. Hyde.  The QRC will begin pushing the doctor to lessen your restrictions or you will notice the QRC linger in the doctors office after your appointment in order to ask a question they "forgot".   The insurance-company-assigned QRC is not going to be looking out for your interests and by the time you figure it out, it's usually too late. Even if you’ve met with a QRC the insurance company assigned to you, and you’ve signed a Rehabilitation Plan (R-2) in Minnesota,
you have the right to change QRC’s within 60 days without obtaining approval from the insurance company and you don't need a reason.

If your QRC is minimizing your injuries, miscommunicating your symptoms and complaints to the doctor, if you feel like your QRC is pushing your doctor to return you to work too early, or if you feel like your QRC is pressuring your doctor to decrease or remove your restrictions,  call attorney Thomas Atkinson TODAY.  Every day matters and the sooner you call the sooner we can assist you in getting you a fair and helpful QRC

Unfortunately, after 60 days have passed, it can difficult to change QRC’s but it can be done.   The lawyers at Atkinson Law Office and Minnesota Disability have helped hundreds of clients obtain a QRC to properly assist them in their recovery from injury, return to work, or if necessary develop retraining plans.  There is never a fee unless we recover benefits for you and your consultation is absolutely FREE.  Call today at 651-333-3636 or visit our website www.mndisability.com

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I Have A Minnesota Work Comp Injury And Now Have Pain That Won't Go Away. Is There Help?

Chronic pain and Minnesota workers compensation injuries; there is help!

Employers and insurance companies frequently disregard subjective complaints of pain and send people back to work without restriction. Unfortunately, this does not always tell the whole story.
Pain is a complicated issue in the context of a Minnesota Workers Compensation Injury. There is no magic test that can prove what a person is feeling. We see individuals who are told to go back to work even though they cannot tolerate the pain.

The best method to protect yourself with your work comp injury is to communicate openly with your doctor.  Our practice regularly sees new clients who needlessly suffer in pain because they do not know what options are available.  Frankly a lot of doctors simply pretend to be too busy to help injured workers suffering from chronic pain when the real reason is the subject of chronic pain is outside their expertise.

You are entitled to reasonable and necessary medical care for your work injury. This includes hiring a pain specialist if necessary. This is especially true if you have been diagnosed with reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) which is also referred to as complex regional pain syndrome.

If you cannot work, you may be entitled to temporary total disability wage loss benefits.  If you make less money than you did before your injury then you may be entitled to reimbursement for your wage loss through temporary partial disability.  The sooner you get appropriate medical care, the faster you can get back to work.

The attorneys at Atkinson Law Office and Minnesota Disability work their clients in obtaining proper treatment with chronic pain doctors throughout Minnesota every week.  We are familiar with the Minnesota Workers Compensation protocol and procedures for chronic pain benefits and can help you obtain the help you need.  Contact our office today at 651-333-3636 or visit our website for more information www.mndisability.com  You are NEVER charged a fee unless we recover benefits for you.  Call today!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Finding The Best Minnesota Workers Compensation Lawyer For You.

There are many ways to find a good workers' compensation lawyer in Minnesota.  You can ask a friend, look in the yellow pages (not sure if anyone does that anymore), or as you did, use the internet.  I encourage people to read through a site to see if they are comfortable taking the next step in emailing or calling the lawyer.  One very important item to look for is experience.  All work comp lawyers will offer a free consult and we all have the same fee structure; no fee unless we recover for you.  You don't necessarily want a lawyer to does family law, wills, criminal law and the occasional work comp case.

I handle workers compensation cases ALL DAY, EVERY DAY.  My staff and I have many nearly half a century of combined experience with Minnesota Workers Compensation disputes.  We are former insurance company attorneys, insurance company adjusters and insurance company paralegals...with an emphasis on FORMER.  We know the tips, tricks and secrets to successfully winning your workers compensation case.  Your lawyers experience is the key to obtaining the best outcome for you and your family.

Contact the attorneys and staff at Atkinson Law Office, P.A. and Minnesota Disability today for a free consultation.  We will patiently listen to your questions and concerns and answer all your questions.  You will not feel rushed and will speak to an actual attorney.  We represent injured workers throughout the entire state of Minnesota.  Call 651-333-3636 today or visit our website www.mndisability.com

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

You Have Been Injured At Work. What Should You Do First.

Under Minn. Stat. § 176.141 Minnesota workers’ compensation case law, an employee must give notice of injury no more than 180 days after it becomes reasonably apparent to the employee that the injury has resulted in, or is likely to cause, a compensable disability.  For years it was believed that an employee who sustained a work injury over many months or years did not have to advise their employer of a work injury until their doctor gave them expert medical advise of the same.  However late this summer the Minnesota Supreme Court decision Anderson v. Frontier Communications.

In Anderson v. Frontier Communications, the employee claimed a repetitive trauma injury known as a "Gillette" injury to his low back injury from his work as a lineman from 1986 through 2007. He employee did not initially seek medical treatment for his back condition until 2007. At trial the employee admitted he knew that his work activities were aggravating his low back problems in 2007. His doctors did not place any restrictions on him and the injury was not reported to the employer. The employee went off work for low back surgery in 2007. After soliciting reports from his surgeons in May 2009, nearly two years after the last day he worked, the employee gave written notice of his injury to the employer.

The Supreme Court created a new rule that essentially means that if you are injured you MUST notify your employer within 180 days that you were injured regardless of how minor your injured may initially be.  If you cut your hand, get a sliver in your eye, twist your back, sprain your knee tell your supervisor or employer safety director immediately.  Due NOT wait, hoping it gets better.  If your supervisor won't get you a form to report the injury, call my office and we will do it for FREE!  YES FOR FREE!

At Atkinson Law Office and Minnesota Disability we have an award winning team of staff and lawyers with decades of experience working with injured workers.  Our telephones are answered 24 hours a day/7 days a week.  Your consultation is free and there is never a fee unless we recover benefits.  And we have staff to assist you filling out First Reports of Injury to protect your right to Minnesota Workers Compensation benefits.  Call today 651-333-3636 in the Twin Cities or throughout the entire state of Minnesota.

Friday, September 14, 2012

I've Been Injured At Work And I Need Help. What Do I Do First?

Failing to report an accident can lead to several problems.  If you do not report an accident on time, your employer can deny you medical treatment and out of work benefits.  The workers’ compensation insurance carrier will also question why your employer did not report the accident on time.  More often however, if you do not report an injury when it happens, your employer can deny the accident occurred or may claim it happened outside of work.  

What should you do?  The first thing you need to do is report the injury and DOCUMENT the fact that you reported the injury.  I love email and there is no better way to document an injury than emailing your team leader, supervisor, company HR, etc.  I have seem dozens of situations where an injured worker is encouraged not to report the injury because the employer will "take care" of the employee directly.  Employers may even lie to employees by telling them that if they report the injury to the insurance company other employees may need to be laid off, bonuses missed and possibly even a loss of job just because you had the bad luck of getting injured. Formally report the accident to your employer in writing, even if you think you are not seriously hurt.  By reporting the accident, you protect yourself against the employer who might claim that you were injured away from the workplace.  When possible, report the accident in writing or in the presence of a friend or reliable witness.  If you are a union member, you should also report the accident to your union representative in addition to your employer.      

If you are injured at work, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits including wage loss, medical benefits and possibly retraining.  Atkinson Law Office, P.A. and Minnesota Disability have represented working families with sound legal advice and guidance when they need a lawyer most.   You will received a FREE consultation...yes, it's absolutely FREE!  We have a team of Workers’ Compensation attorneys and professional who work tirelessly to protect the rights of injured workers.  We provide free consultations to inform you of your rights and obligations under the law and strongly recommend that you call us today if you have been hurt at work.  Our phones are answered 24/7 and you can frequently speak to an attorney any time of the day or night.  651-414-078.  We represent clients throughout the entire state of Minnesota.  Visit us at www.mndisability.com

Monday, September 3, 2012

I Have Had Both Neck Surgery And Back Surgery; Do You Need Back Or Neck Surgery?

Since my neck surgery I have run a marathon, and following my back surgeries I have run a half marathon and many 10k races.  I share this with you not so that you take surgery lightly, but to recognize that there are very successful outcomes to back and neck surgery.  

For most injured workers, spine surgery is “elective”, meaning that it is considered as a possible approach to enhance an injured worker’s ability to function and decrease pain. However, just because spine surgery is elective or recommended by a spine surgeon does not mean the workers compensation insurance company will agree to pay for it.  Almost without exception, the work comp insurer will require an independent medical examination.

"Elective" just means that surgery of the spine is rarely an absolute necessity. Like myself, most often surgery is performed to relieve significant pain or reduce symptoms such as radiating pain, numbness or tingling down one’s legs or arms.  Only in rare instances, such as for patients who have a progressive neurological loss of function or sudden onset of bowel or bladder incontinence, is spinal surgery actually necessary on an emergency basis.

Spine surgery can basically accomplish two tasks:

  1. Decompress a nerve root or the spinal cord
  2. Stabilize an unstable or painful segment with cervical, thoracic or lumbar fusion

Some injure workers with back or neck pain wonder by a surgeon doesn’t perform exploratory surgery.  I have never heard of exploratory spine surgery. The cause of a patient’s pain is not readily apparent with opening and exploring the spine. The preoperative evaluation and imaging results are what identify the problem and guide the design of the procedure.

If you have been injured, contact the attorneys of Minnesota Disability and Atkinson Law Office, P.A. For a FREE consultation call 651-333-3636.  Our phones are answered 24 hours a day.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I Hurt My Back And Need Surgery, What Now?

Perhaps you are just like me and hurt your back at work.  I hurt my lumbar spine (low back) after a work related fall and had to undergo two lumbar spine surgeries over two years.  It began with severe leg pain and modest back pain.  Perhaps you thought that you hurt your leg and not your back because of the shooting pain, numbness or tingling in your leg.  This is not unusual.  After an MRI and referral to a surgeon you have may been advised to have surgery like me.  What now?

The first time around, I tried a short course of physical therapy and steroids without any success.  I underwent surgery with an excellent neurosurgeon and had great results.  Unfortunately I had a second injury resulting in an even larger disc injury at the same level. The second time I tried to do everything possible to avoid surgery.  I tried physical therapy and two different types of steroids to avoid surgery.  I couldn't sit for long periods, couldn't sleep and was absolutely miserable.  One of the medications I was prescribed resulted in an unpleasant side affect called steroid psychosis which was absolutely frightening!  I relented and underwent a second surgery.  The second surgery had a number of unexpected complications but eventually my luck changed and I have made a good recovery.  Though I still struggle with leg pain and some other issues, I have been able to put in long hours with my legal practice, bike and even run a half marathon. 

Surgery is a serious decision and I counsel clients every week on THEIR decision to have cervical surgery (yep, I've also had neck surgery), back surgery, etc.  Let me help you with your work related injury and counsel you on your options and how surgery will affect your future employment and workers compensation benefits.  Our lawyers have decades of experience each and you will receive personal attention to your claim.  How many lawyers give you their cell phone number to call them with questions?  I do, my cell phone is 651-324-9514.  I look forward to hearing from you.  Feel free to visit our website as well www.mndisability.com or call 651-414-0678 to make an appointment.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Petittion to Vacate Minnesota Workers Compensation Settlement

You settled your case a few years ago and now you are wondering whether you made a mistake.  Can a settlement be undone?  The short answer is YES they can.  However, the State of Minnesota has very strict requirements to do the same.

For awards issued after July 1, 1992, Minn. Stat. 176.461 defines cause for vacation of an award as limited to the following:  (1) mutual mistake of fact, (2) newly discovered evidence, (3) fraud, or (4) a substantial change in medical condition since the time of the award that was clearly not anticipated and could not reasonably have been anticipated at the time of the award.  Where a change in condition is alleged, the focus is on whether there has been a substantial or significant worsening of the employee's condition and whether there is adequate evidence of a causal relationship, comparing the employee's condition at the time of settlement with the employee's condition at the time of the petition to vacate.  

The Minnesota Workers Compensation Court of Appeals has a number of factors that may be considered in determining whether a substantial change in condition has occurred, including a change in diagnosis; a change in the employee's ability to work; an increase in permanent partial disability; the necessity of more costly and extensive medical care or nursing services than was initially anticipated; the causal relationship between the injury covered by the settlement and the employee's current worsened condition; and the contemplation of the parties at the time of settlement.  

If you believe that you meet the above criteria contact our office TODAY at 651-414-0678 to discuss your case.  Also feel free to visit our website at www.mndisability.com 

Important Tips For Injured Workers From A Former Insurance Company Attorney.

You have just been injured at work, what should you do?  Advise a supervisor and seek medical treatment TODAY!  Don't assume it will get better!  Don't be pressured by your employer to claim the injury didn't happen and work regardless of what they say.  I have heard employers promise to pay for the treatment themselves, tell the worker that the business will lose their contract or lay off employees because of the claim.  These are all TRUE lies that I have heard in the last few years.

After you report he injury to your employer and seek medical attention be sure to do the following:

1.  Contact an experienced work comp lawyer...Seriously I don't care if your claim is admitted, contact an attorney to be sure you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled under law.  Consultations are always free whether the lawyer is the best in the Minnesota (Atkinson Law Office) or the worst firm (yes their are bad work comp lawyers).
2.  Save copies of all claim-related documents, forms, medical bills, benefit checks, letters, hand written notes, emails;
3.  Be sure to obtain appropriate work restrictions from your doctors and provide copies to your employer;
4.  Keep your supervisor and employer up to date with your work restrictions;
5.  If you have been out of work or working reduced hours for more than 2 months, request a QRC to assist you with return to work advice and to guide you with you medical treatment.  This is another time to contact a lawyer to ask advice on which QRC you have the right to chose;
6.  Keep track and request reimbursement of ALL out of pocket expenses including mileage driving for any and all medical appointments;
7.  If the insurer schedules you for an IME (independent medical examination) you absolutely should contact an attorney if you ignores step 1 above.  This could very well result in the immediate end to your work comp benefits!  I can't stress this enough.

Contact the attorneys at Minnesota Disability and Atkinson Law Office today for a free legal consultation.  651-414-0678 where your calls are answered 24 hours a day, every day of the year.  A lawyer will either speak to you immediately or within a few hours.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

NOPLD - What Does The Notice Of Primary Liability Determination Mean?

The Notice of Insurer's Primary Liability Determination form is filed with the state by the insurer, showing whether the insurer accepts or denies a claim. This form contains important information for the injured worker to know, including:  the claim number, the insurance adjuster's name and phone number, the employee's average weekly wage, the compensation rate, if or when benefits will be initiated, and the specific reason and facts supporting any denial of liability.

I can't emphasis the importance of contacting an attorney IMMEDIATELY after you receive a NOPLD.  There are strict rules on how much time you have to fight or appeal this decision.  The attorneys at Minnesota Disability and Atkinson Law Office have handled thousands of cases over the past two decades and have the expertise to assist with your claim.  Keep a copy of this form for your records.

The attorneys at Atkinson Law Office and Minnesota Disability will file a claim petition, the only remedy, to contest the denial of your claim.  Do not delay.  Our office will offer a free legal consultation to assist in coming up with a plan to get the benefits you deserve.  651-333-3636 where your calls are answered 24/7 every day of the year and we represent clients throughout the entire state of Minnesota. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Minnesota Workers Compensation for Union Construction Employees

Minnesota has a two tiered system for injured construction workers.  The first program is the the common Minnesota Workers Compensation program where injured workers' disputed work comp claims are litigated through the Office of Administrative Hearings.  However, some "union" employees have bargained through their unions to participate in the "Union Construction Workers' Compensation Program".  The concept behind the program is to reduce costs for construction companies and their insurers and expedite disputes.

In the past, the program did in fact expedite disputes.  However, with recent changes at the Office of Administrative Hearings to expedite all disputed matters, the two are now nearing equality.  Though the program offers to mediate disputes, NEVER EVER go through this process without consulting an experienced Minnesota Workers Compensation attorney.  It is important to note that ANY injured union employee should absolutely consult an attorney immediately after their injury.  Your union rep is not a lawyer, does NOT represent you and at times may be looking out for someone other than you.  Minnesota unions have been weakened over the last few decades and it's important that you know your workers compensation rights!  The attorneys at Minnesota Disability and Atkinson Law Office have worked with injured union workers for decades.  We are intimately familiar with the Union Construction Workers Compensation Program and are ready to provide a free consultation any day of the week.  Our phones are answered 24/7 so please call us today.  651-333-3636.  We represent workers injured in Minnesota throughout the entire state and have many clients outside of Minnesota who suffered injuries while temporarily employed here.  Please call us today.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I Settled My Work Comp Case Years Ago But I Have Gotten Worse.

NEVER assume that because your workers' compensation case has been "settled" that you can't reopen the case or have additional benefits forthcoming.  Every month employee's who THOUGHT they settled their cases bring in their stipulations for settlement under he belief their cases are closed.  In fact, adjusters often mistakenly or out right LIE and tell injured workers their cases are closed and they can't help them.  Don't believe them without talking with an experience attorney first. 

At Minnesota Disability and Atkinson Law Office, we are happy to review your prior settlement papers to advise you what benefits you may still be entitled to under Minnesota Workers Compensation laws.  Contact our office today at 651-333-3636 to speak with an attorney today.  www.mndisability.com  Remember the phone call is free and there is NEVER a fee to speak with an attorney guaranteed!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Who Are The Best Twin Cities Workers Compensation Lawyers?

Who are the best workers' compensation attorneys in Minnesota and the Twin Cities?  I won't list them here but just because they have a website and say they are experienced doesn't make it so.  You don't want a "baby lawyer" representing you on the most important legal case you may ever have.

Hear are some important questions to ask an interview when YOU interview them!

1.  How many years have you been handling workers compensation cases?  If less than 10 years, keep searching.  They simply don't have the experience necessary to represent most complex injury cases.

2.  How many cases have you taken to hearing at the Office of Administrative Hearings?  If less than 50 cases, keep looking.  Most EXPERIENCED workers compensation attorneys will go to hearing on a regular basis.  When I go to hearing, I know all the judges and they all know me.  I also know everyone who is anyone in workers compensation.  Those who are "outsiders" standout and may lack the experience to adequately represent you in this specialized area.

3.  Can I speak with YOU the attorney when it's important or must all communication while not in court go through the office staff?  There is no question that all experienced workers' compensation attorneys have exceptional staff that can assist our clients as part of the team that works to represent you.  However I the attorney am the one who should provide LEGAL advice and guidance directly to you regarding your case.

4.  Will you provide me with your cell phone and email address?  Good luck with this one!!!!  If you can get one of the two you are lucky.  I am one of the very few attorney's who offer my cell phone number 651-324-9514 AND my email tom@mndisability.com for you to contact me directly.  Don't believe me, call another work comp attorney and ask them for both!

5.  Have you ever been disciplined by the Lawyers Board of Professional Responsibility?  In two decades I have NEVER been disciplined in ANY manner; public or private by the board.  Public OR PRIVATE!!!!

At Atkinson Law Office and Minnesota Disability you will be represented by Tom Atkinson or another attorney who has at least 10 years experience but more often over 20 years of workers compensation experience.  Call us today at 651-333-3636 for an absolutely free consultation.  www.mndisability.com

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What I Need to Know About Minnesota Workers Compensation Hearings.

I have represented hundreds of clients at workers compensation hearings at the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings.  Over the past 20 years the location of these hearings, the judges, and some of the procedures and formats have changed.  Despite these changes there are some facts that remain the same.  Workers compensation hearings are heard by experienced workers compensation judges NOT juries.  The judges work harder now than ever before with more pressures then ever to move cases quickly to resolution.  Without exception workers compensation judges are professional and courteous to all parties and I'm confident they do their very best in light of the hurdles they face.  We can disagree with their decisions from time to time, but I can assure my clients that our current workers compensation judges take YOUR case very seriously and will consider all the facts and apply the law to the best of their ability when your cases goes to hearing.

In preparing for a hearing keep in mind that one of the key criteria a judge considers is whether YOU and the other party are credible.  If you are credible, there is a strong chance you will prevail.  To this end ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS tell the truth.  You are human and can surely forget particular facts but if you are caught in a "lie", your case may have become a herculean task for your attorney.  Like many attorneys, I have no interest in representing untruthful clients.  I can assure you there are lawyers out there who will, but at Atkinson Law Office and Minnesota Disability we would rather put our reputation and hard work into representing the vast majority of those we meet; injured workers like you who want to be made as "whole" as the system will allow.

On the day of your hearing it's important to be on time, turn off your cell phone, act professional, and be prepared to team with your lawyer to WIN!  At Atkinson Law Office we are never afraid to take a case to hearing in order for you to obtain the best result possible.  If you have sustained a work injury contact Tom Atkinson or one of the attorneys with Atkinson Law Office and Minnesota Disability today for an absolutely free consultation.  We represent injured workers across the entire state of Minnesota and across the country who have been injured in Minnesota OR working outside the state of Minnesota for Minnesota companies.  651-333-3636 or call Tom directly on his cell phone at 651-324-9514.  www.mndisability.com

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Must I Attend My Minnesota Workers Compensation Deposition?


You hired an attorney to represent you in a workers compensation case and a short time later you receive a letter telling you to appear for YOUR deposition.  Holy cow, what do you do now?  You weren’t prepared for this.

Few things cause more anxiety for a injured workers than attending a deposition for their workers compensation case.  Having been deposed myself and having taken over a thousand depositions let me tell you that there's really no reason to be nervous.  With few exceptions, depositions in a Minnesota workers compensation claims are incredibly informal affairs that last 1-2 hours.  However, they can be extremely important in winning or losing your case if you don’t answer the questions truthfully, act like a jerk, or do not follow your attorney’s advice. 

Although every workers' compensation case has a unique set of facts and legal issues, depositions of injured workers usually follow a similar pattern and cover similar topics. 

1. Identifying InformationDefense attorneys will ask you to provide a great deal of information regarding yourself, including your:
  • Full Name
  • Maiden Name
  • Nickname
  • Current Address
  • Names of Residents at Current Address
  • Addresses During Last Five Years
  • Marital Status and Name of Husband or Wife
  • Names of Children and Other Dependents
  • Driver's License Number
  • Social Security Number
  • Whether you are a citizen of the United States
  • Whether you are legally able to work in the United States
  • Educational History
  • Criminal History

Although defense attorneys ask several questions regarding injured workers' background and personal history, the majority of these questions are intended to elicit general information and allow the attorney to "get a feel" for the injured worker.  Defense attorneys always ask injured workers whether they have been convicted of a felony, so don't be offended if you are asked this question.  You must disclose this information truthfully if asked during your deposition; therefore, you should be sure to speak with your attorney about any prior arrests or convictions before your deposition begins.

2. Previous EmploymentDefense attorneys likely will ask you to provide the following information regarding your employment history:
  • Names of Prior Employers
  • Addresses of Prior Employers
  • Dates of Prior Employment
  • Job Duties with Prior Employers
  • Names of Immediate Supervisors with Prior Employers
  • Whether you Suffered any Injuries with Prior Employers
  • Reason you Ceased Employment with Prior Employers

If you are asked about any prior on-the-job injuries, it is critical that you answer truthfully even if you had a prior on-the-job injury.  And this is true even if your prior on-the-job injury was the same or similar to your current on-the-job injury.  Similarly, if you were terminated by any prior employers, you must disclose any such terminations if you are asked.  Defense attorneys can easily obtain your prior medical and employment records, so lying to them or failing to disclose this type of information likely will allow them to impeach you and hurt your credibility.

3.  Previous Medical HistoryDefense attorneys usually cover your medical history very thoroughly.  In so doing, they will usually ask you whether you have suffered from any of the following:
  • Prior Non-Work-Related Accidents/Injuries
  • Prior Work-Related Accidents/Injuries
  • Prior Automobile Accidents/Injuries
  • Prior Motorcycle Accidents/Injuries
  • Prior Pedestrian Accidents/Injuries
  • Prior Slip-and-Fall Accidents/Injuries
  • Prior Sports-Related Accidents/Injuries
  • Prior Military-Related Accidents/Injuries
  • Chronic Medical Conditions or Diseases
  • Names of Prior Medical Providers

You must disclose information regarding your past medical history if asked; therefore, if you have suffered any of the above-referenced accidents or injuries (or any others), you should speak with your attorney about them before your deposition.  Insurance companies have access to computerized records of injuries reported to any insurance company, and defense attorneys generally are able to obtain prior medical records, so there is no sense in lying about your prior medical history when asked.  You may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits even if you suffered from a prior injury or medical condition, but if you lie or fail to disclose this type of information when asked, you almost certainly will hurt your chances of receiving workers' compensation benefits.

4.  Description of On-the-Job AccidentWorkers' compensation in Minnesota is a "no fault" system, so, with some exceptions, the cause of your accident won't matter too much.  Your attorney should discuss your accident with you before your deposition, so if he or she does not, you should be sure to discuss this with them if you are concerned about it for any reason.

5.  Medical Treatment for On-the-Job InjuriesYou should be prepared to name all of the doctors who have examined or treated you for your on-the-job injury regardless of who sent you to each doctor.  In addition, you should be prepared to describe the type of treatment that each doctor provided and to explain whether and how the treatment improved your condition.

6.  Current DisabilityDefense attorneys always ask injured workers to list and explain their symptoms, and to explain how these symptoms limit their ability to perform work of any kind.  Along these lines, they will also ask injured workers to explain what types of work and non-work-related activities they could perform before their accidents but not after their accidents.  Finally, they usually ask injured workers what they have been doing in the spare time since their accidents.

The two important rules in closing that I always tell my clients before depositions are: (1) give short answers; and (2) tell the truth.  Most questions can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no", and perhaps a very brief explanation.  Never volunteer information that hasn't been specifically asked.  And tell the truth always - you never know if the carrier has been having an investigator follow you and perform video surveillance.  If you say you haven't done something, and they have you on videotape doing it, the judge won't believe a word you say. 

If your case has gotten to the point where you have a deposition scheduled, and don’t feel you are properly prepared, you should probably consult with attorney Thomas Atkinson at 651-333-3636 or visit us at www.mndisability.com  Your consultation is FREE and we never charge a fee unless we recover benefits for you!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Should I Particpate In A Minnesota Work Comp Mediation?

Has your attorney suggested that you participate in a mediation of your Minnesota Workers' Compensation Claim?  Over the past 20 years that I have participated in work comp claims, I have witnessed first hand the increasing use of meditations with excellent success.

Work comp litigation can involve significant costs over months and years with an uncertain end in store for both sides.  Even if the parties go to a hearing with a workers compensation judge, the "Findings and Order" are generally limited to the disputes up through the date of the hearing.  I too have had a work injury and agreed to mediate my workers compensation disputes through the use of a mediator.  Though I go to hearing or conferences before judges on an almost weekly basis in my practice representing injured workers, most injured workers like myself, find the mediation outcome worthwhile.

Why mediate a case when I can go to a hearing instead?  The number one reason is you may not like the outcome which can rarely be overturned on appeal.  Typically if you go to hearing and lose, your case is finished and though you may convince yourself that you went to trial for the "principal" of the matter, that's not always the best rational.  The mediators job is to bring the parties together in an effort to find common ground and come up with a settlement that, though both parties may not be thrilled with, is still satisfactory.

Meditations can be performed by excellent private mediators such as Joan Hallock, Dan Lively, Mike Aafedt, Mike Forde and Peter Pustorino.  These are all former workers compensation attorneys and/or judges who are hired by the parties to mediate disputes.  Another possibility is to utilize the services of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry or in some cases use sitting work comp judges at the Office of Administrative Hearings in St. Paul.  I have had meditations with all four judges who currently mediate matters at OAH and with most of the mediators at DOLI.  In my experience they all have their place depending up the particular facts or clients.

If you are not represented by an attorney and the insurance company recommends or suggests settlement, I strongly urge you to contact an experienced workers compensation attorney who may recommend mediation as a method to explore resolution of your dispute.  At Atkinson Law Office, P.A. and Minnesota Disability we have a staff and attorneys whose past experience in representing insurance companies is put to use in supporting YOU the injured workers.  Let us show you the secrets the insurance companies won't.  Contact us for a free consultation at 651-332-8792 or visit our main website www.mndisability.com today!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Gary Hall Named New Workers Compensation Court of Appeals Judge.

Congratulations to former Office of Administrative Hearing Judge Gary Hall who currently serves as Assistant Commissioner for Safety and Workers’ Compensation at the Department of Labor and Industry. Through his role as Assistant Commissioner, Judge Hall is responsible for the operations of the Workers’ Compensation and OSHA programs. He also acts as the Executive Director of the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council.  He received a B.A. summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota in 1979; and a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1982.
Additionally, Judge. Hall is a member of the American Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Section National Conference of Specialized Court Judges and is a past member of the National Association of Hearing Officials.  Aside from his numerous chili cooking honors, Judge Hall is also a Rosetown Playhouse Community Theater volunteer as well as a Moot Court volunteer.  Congratulations Judge Hall on your appointment to the Minnesota Workers Compensation Court of Appeals.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Baggage Claim Handlers and Flight Attendants Injured At American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and Sun Country Airlines.

If you work for an airline and are injured while in Minnesota or in another state on a trip originating from or ending in Minnesota, you may be entitled to Minnesota workers compensation benefits.  Minnesota's workers compensation programs are often more generous than other states.  Though many of your may be union members, it's important that you do NOT limit yourself to legal advise from attorneys referred by your supervisor or union steward.  They don't necessarily refer you to an attorney because of the best legal advise.  They may refer you in order to receive gifts, free dinners or even cash payments.  This process is illegal and any attorney who is a party to this action is NOT the type of lawyer you can trust.

There are many excellent attorneys who are willing ready and able to worked for you!   Contact the attorneys of Atkinson Law Office and Minnesota Disability to provide you with a FREE consultation.  You will never pay a fee directly to a Minnesota Workers Compensation attorney.  We only collect a fee if we recover benefits for you.  Contact us today at 651-333-3636, toll free 800-933-5619 or visit our main website at www.mndisability.com.

Monday, January 23, 2012

How & Whys of Minnesota Work Comp Settlements

Though I have handled hundreds of workers compensation hearings and conferences, I have also participated in thousands of Minnesota workers compensation settlements.  I have the unique experience of having assisted insurance companies and more recently injured workers.  This experience makes my office extremely effective in negotiating on behalf of my injured clients when trying to squeeze every penny out of the insurance company.

How do settlements work?  Though insurance companies have been known to quickly attempt settlements after an employee is injured, the more common scenario occurs after a claim has been paid and then a portion or all of the claim is denied.  Settlements also can occur after your attorney sues the insurance company to pay your benefits.  It is extremely important if you are unrepresented to at least have an attorney review the settlement agreement to be sure you are getting the deal that was promised.  On many occasions I have also been able to obtain additional settlement money for clients.  On one occasion we obtained over $60,000 in additional money only a few weeks after an insurance adjuster made a "final offer" to our client.  Not only did we obtain additional money for our client but we negotiated better settlement terms by leaving open future medical benefits for him as well.

Once the settlement agreement is reached the parties draft what is called a Stipulation for Settlement.  This is a very important document that is signed by all parties and then approved by a workers compensation administrative law judge from the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings.  This entire portion of the process can take from 2 weeks to a few months depending on the number of parties and issues involved.  After the stipulation for settlement is completed and signed by all parties, it is submitted to the judge who issues an Award on Stipulation.  This is an Order and the work comp insurance company must MAIL payment within 14 calendar days.  The vast majority of payments go directly the injured worker within two weeks of the judge's Order.

You only have one chance to negotiate you settlement and doing so without a lawyer is just plain crazy.  I have seen many adjusters take advantage of workers by explaining the reasons behind the settlement value without ever telling them what they are really giving up in exchange.  Contact the lawyers at Minnesota Disability and Atkinson Law Office today to see how we can assist you with you claim.  We assist hundreds of injured workers every year in obtaining the best results for their family given their unique situations.  We meet with clients across the entire state of Minnesota.  Contact us toll free at 800-933-5619 or 651-333-3636.  Feel free to visit our other website www.mndisability.com for additional information. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Choosing A Qualified Rehabilitation Counselor (QRC)

What is a QRC?  A qualified rehabilitation counselor works to assist in the rehabilitation of injured workers.  A QRC has the job of helping injured workers return to suitable employment as quickly as possible. This could mean a return to work with the pre-injury employer, in either the same job or another job, or to a new employer in the same or a different type of work.

Though QRCs are suppose to be neutral parties in the rehabilitation process, any experienced workers compensation attorney will telling you that often those QRCs assigned to you by the employer and insurer have an alternative motive; steering you to a biased uncaring doctor, obtaining a full release of restrictions as soon as possible regardless of you the injured worker, and minimizing rehab costs.  The employer insurer QRC is NOT to be trusted.  They employer and insurer QRC may seem to be your friend and acting on your behalf but before you realize what is happening the damage done may be difficult to reverse.  You have the right to change QRCs at any time within the first 60 days after they are assigned.  However you have the right to chose the initial QRC.  ALWAYS consult with an attorney to obtain a suggestion of the right QRC for you.  At Minnesota Disability and Atkinson Law Office, we can help you with this extremely important task at no cost to you.  Feel free to contact our office directly at 651-333-3636.