Thursday, August 28, 2014

Why Do Herniated Discs Hurt My Arm Or Leg Rather Than My Low Back Or Neck? This Makes No Sense.

Though I am an expert Minnesota workers compensation attorney, I am also a former injured worker.   I have undergone 2 low back surgeries and a cervical spine surgery in the last 22 years.  What I have learned from these personal experiences is that yes sometimes a herniated disc in the low back can hurt the low back area, but they can also result in symptoms in your lower extremities (buttocks, legs, feet and toes).  Likewise, cervical spine injuries can also result in symptoms into your upper extremities (shoulder, arms, hands, and fingers).  Patients and clients are often confused when their doctors tell them they have suffered a back or neck injury and yet they only have pain their arms or legs.  Please don't be confused, your confusion is common.

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

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Are My PERA Retirement Benefits Deductible From My Minnesota Workers Compensation Benefits?

Up until August 13, 2014, injured workers who were declared permanently totally disabled, had their Minnesota workers compensation benefits reduced by the amount of their public employee retirement association (PERA) benefit.  In many cases this would virtually eliminate their entitled to work related wage loss benefits.

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 or call 651-333-3636 today.