Minnesota Workers’ Compensation: Legal Steps After Denial of Benefits

Workers who suffer injuries on the job in Minnesota often have plenty of questions about how to file a workers' comp claim. From reporting an injury to an employer to learning about a workers' right to medical treatment, a Minnesota workers' comp lawyer can explain all of the preliminary legal issues and help a client understand how to maximize work injury benefits.

If a worker learns that his or her application for benefits has been denied, a workers' compensation attorney can explain everything from legal timelines for appeal to a client's prospects for success. Because Minnesota's workers' compensation system is governed by its own administrative process, the rules and procedures of appeal are distinct from those for a personal injury claim.

What to Do if Your Employer's Insurer Denies Workers' Comp Benefits

After an employee has notified his or her employer about the injury and sought proper medical care, the resulting work injury claim is subject to a ten-day waiting period. Once this period elapses, the employer's workers' comp insurer must file a Notice of Insurer's Primary Liability Determination (NOPLD) form disclosing either the compensation rate and when benefits will be initiated, or the specific reasons and facts behind a denial of liability.

In some cases, a conversation with the insurance company's claims adjuster might clear up a misunderstanding that led to denial, which could be as simple as an error with respect to dates or information about how or where the injury occurred. However, if an adjuster requests a recorded statement regarding your work injury, it is recommended you decline and immediately contact an experienced workers compensation attorney.

An employee who is wrongfully denied benefits may need to request a hearing before the Workers' Compensation Division of the Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry (DLI) to have the matter reviewed. Prior to filing the necessary Employee's Claim Petition form, the DLI encourages employees to set up a consultation with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer to learn whether legal representation may be helpful. All such consultations are FREE.

An appeal of a denial of workers' compensation benefits can ultimately proceed through several levels of review:

  • Judges in the Workers' Compensation Division of the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) conduct pretrial and trial level review of workers' compensation decisions
  • The Minnesota Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) has exclusive authority to review cases decided by OAH judges as well as some decisions by the Workers' Compensation Division at the Department of Labor and Industry
  • WCCA decisions can be appealed directly to the Minnesota Supreme Court based upon a writ of certiorari, meaning that the Supreme Court has discretion as to whether or not it will review the lower court's decision

The DLI also offers free mediation services conducted by trained mediators as well as the services of Alternative Dispute Resolution specialists instead of the formal hearing process. It is strongly recommended that participants be represented by an experienced workers' comp attorney at all proceedings with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Office of Administrative Hearings.

As obvious as the injury circumstances may seem to a worker, significant legal complexities can stand in the way of a quick and fair benefits determination. By discussing the nature of the injury and the latest legal developments with an experienced workers' compensation injury lawyer, an employee can learn how benefits work and discuss other options such as claims against third parties, including contractors who may share responsibility for a workplace accident.