Take caution to prevent denial of your workers’ compensation claim

On-the-job injuries are commonly associated with industries known to be at higher risk for such incidents. These include construction, mining, farming and other similar fields of work. However, workplace injuries or illnesses can happen in any job setting, often leaving Minnesota employees in need of compensation. This may be especially so now that a new state law has expanded workers' compensation benefits to include a greater amount of mental health conditions.

Workers' compensation not a guarantee

Some people may expect the receipt of workers' compensation benefits to be standard protocol in the wake of an employment-related injury. However, Minnesota's Department of Labor and Industries reports that in 2011, a total of 12.3 percent of all claims were denied.

In that same year, the state saw a 22 percent dispute rate, an increase of 42 percent since 1997. The vast majority of the increase in disputes related to medical coverage as disputes related to those benefits rose 89 percent in that timeframe. Along with the dispute rate climbing, the involvement of attorneys also rose from 16.9 to 24.8 percent for all claims that included not solely medical costs but either lost wages, vocational rehabilitation or other benefits as well.

Reasons for denials

According to the state, some trends can be noted for denied workers' compensation claims. In general, the denial rate is higher for:

  • Older claimants up to 64 years old
  • Workers earning lower wages
  • Workers with prior claims on file
  • Claims not filed immediately following the incident

Claimants with greater job tenure had lower denial rates as did those involved in incidents where the injury could most easily be attributed to a workplace situation.

A trend to watch

Effective October 1, 2013, Minnesota will be extending workers' compensation benefits to employees with mental health injuries. The nature of the mental health condition could result from a physical injury or from an emotional one.

In the world of workers' compensation, these are classified as physical-mental or mental-mental claims. An example of the former is depression that develops in response to a physical illness or injury clearly sustained in a work-related situation. An example of the latter would be post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from a traumatic or violent situation while on the job.

With this new benefit to be allowed, it will be interesting to note if any changes in the number of workers' compensation claims filed, allowed or denied occurs.

Legal help can help

If you have been injured either physically or mentally through a work-related circumstance or experience, it is highly advisable that you seek legal advice and guidance regarding your workers' compensation benefits. With the denial rates and changes in state laws, professional assistance can make the difference between an approval and denial of your claim.