Workers’ Compensation For Back Injuries In Minnesota

Workers’ Compensation For Back Injuries In Minnesota

Back injuries are painful, frustrating and can have a wide-ranging impact on your lifestyle.  If you suffer a bank injury in the course of employment, Minnesota law provides workers’ compensation benefits.  Here are some of the issues regarding recovery of benefits to keep in mind.

Course of Employment

To recover workers’ compensation, your back injury must have occurred in the course of employment and not due to some other cause.  For example, in one case, the court found that a taxi driver’s lower back disc rupture did not arise out of the driver’s employment, since there was a lack of evidence that the driver’s employment caused the rupture any more than the driver’s daily living would have done.  If your injury has just occurred, you can support your case by reporting the injury as soon as possible to your supervisor and determining whether your primary care provider thinks that your injury is consistent with a work-related cause.  Notice to your employer of your injury is also a requirement under Minnesota law and must be given within 30 days, although the failure to do so won’t bar your claim unless the employer demonstrates that your failure harmed it (and even then, your claim will only be barred to the extent of the harm to the employer).  You do need to give notice to the employer within 180 days of the injury, however.

Total v. Partial/Temporary v. Permanent Disability

A back injury can result in a total or partial disability.  For example, one employee was found to have been temporarily totally disabled from a disc injury, when the pain in her back was too great to return to work and a doctor restricted her from working.  In contrast, an employee who suffered a back injury and underwent a spinal fusion surgery, but who could subsequently work full time, was partially disabled.

Your injury can also be temporary or permanent for purposes of workers’ comp benefits.  Temporary partial disability is money paid while you are employed but earning less than what you earned at the time of the injury, if the reduction in your wage is due to your injury.   Permanent partial disability, on the other hand, is money paid after any temporary total disability compensation runs out.  The amount of money you receive depends on your impairment rating.  Different back injuries will be given different impairment ratings; as a few examples, pain associated with chronic muscle spasms, with accompanying medical evidence, has an impairment rating of 7%, spinal stenosis associated with repeated bending and lifting has a rating of 14%, and a non-surgically treated herniated disc in the thoracic spine has a rating of 3%.

For injury producing temporary total disability, workers’ compensation is two-thirds of your weekly wage at the time of injury.  For temporary partial disability, compensation is two-thirds of the difference between your weekly wage at the time of injury and the wage you are able to earn in the partially disabled condition.

Personal Injury Claim

Finally, although this post has been about recovery of benefits under the workers’ compensation system, it’s also worth keeping in mind that in certain circumstances, you might have a claim against a co-employee for your injury.  You can bring a tort claim against a co-employee if the co-employee was grossly negligent or intentionally inflicted the injury.  “Co-employee” does not include all people you worked with, though; it means supervisors such as a corporate officer, a general supervisor, or a foreman.  Keep in mind that Minnesota has a statute of limitations of 6 years on a negligence claim, so if you have waited a while to look into workers’ compensation benefits, you may need to act relatively quickly on any potential personal injury claim.

Workers' Compensation

Christopher Rosengren
Rosengren, Kohlmeyer & Hagen Law Office Chtd.
Mankato, Minnesota