St. Paul Work Injury Lawyers
Work Injury Lawyer at Your Service
Every day, many Minnesotans go to work with a false sense of security. They believe that federal government watchdog agencies, like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, keep workplaces safe. They also believe that state agencies, like the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Division, protect them if they are hurt on the job. Unfortunately, both these beliefs are untrue.
OSHA is one of the smallest federal government agencies. Roughly 2,000 inspectors are responsible for over 130 million workers. That breaks down to one inspector for every 70,000 workers. This underfunded and overworked agency cannot possibly keep up with all the safety needs and developments that a changing workforce represents. Therefore, many employers must police themselves, and most employers care little about worker safety. They only care about their bottom lines.
Workers are largely on their own regarding workplace safety, and they are also largely on their own if they get hurt. Wages increase almost every year, yet the workers’ compensation wage replacement benefit declines almost every year. That’s mostly because premium declines reduce the amount of compensation available. Additionally, medical bills increase almost every year. The tables that govern medical bill reimbursement for injured Minnesota workers often do not accurately reflect these increases.
Making matters worse, hurdles quickly pop up in the injury compensation process. Many injured workers have issues finding claim forms in languages they understand. Minnesotans speak over 120 different languages at home. None of them speak Legalese, which is the language of most legal forms. Additionally, Claims Examiners find ways to deny most claims, even if the victim has a strong case.
It may seem like no one is on your side when you get hurt at work. But, regardless of the facts of your case, the dedicated St. Paul workers’ compensation lawyers at Tyroler Leonard Injury Law are firmly on your side. Instead of representing penny-pinching bureaucrats or profit-hungry companies, we only represent injured victims and their families. This dedication means we are committed to maximum compensation for your serious injuries. So, we do not relent until we obtain the best possible results under the circumstances.
Why Choose Us
Injured workers should choose the St. Paul workers’ compensation lawyers at Tyroler Leonard Injury Law to level the playing field in the long, and often frustrating, workers’ compensation claims process.
Almost immediately after injured workers file comp claims, the insurance company hires a team of lawyers and investigators to review the claim and find ways to reduce or deny compensation to victims. These companies, like most other companies, only care about their own profits. Quite simply, an insurance company makes money when it collects premiums and loses money when it pays claims.
The tenacious work injury lawyers at Tyroler Leonard Injury Law have fought against long odds before and won. We are confident that the proven methods we have developed over the years will yield similar results in your case.
The adversarial nature of these claims is just the beginning. The Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act is extremely complex, and in many cases, this law places the interests of employers above the interests of injured workers.
Because the current legal environment is so difficult, and every year it gets harder, many lawyers in Ramsey County no longer practice workers’ compensation law. But our determined St. Paul job injury lawyers remain in the fight. We believe in the rights of injured workers and their families.
In a nutshell, we fight for injured workers and win cases because our legal team has the right combination of skills.
Years of experience are important. Law school teaches students to think like lawyers. But only experience teaches former students to act like lawyers.
However, years of experience could also be deceptive. A football team that lost all its games last season and returns all its starters the next season may be the most experienced team in the league. But that squad probably won’t be a winning team.
At Tyroler Leonard Injury Law, our winning experience has taught us to always try and give insurance companies a chance to do the right thing. If they hesitate, and they usually do, we do not hesitate. Instead, we aggressively file legal paperwork and force companies to do what they should have done in the first place.
Our team settles most cases out of court. But we rarely take the first offer, or even the second or the third. Instead, we stay in the ring until we obtain the best possible result under the circumstances. If that means going to trial, we are ready, willing, and able to go the distance for you.
Many workers’ compensation lawyers in St. Paul are actually general practice lawyers. They simply take a few job injury cases on the side, mostly for existing clients. This lack of dedication means they quickly lose heart when things get tough.
Every person on our professional team has dedicated his/her professional life to upholding the rights of injured victims, not only in personal injury cases but also in workers’ compensation cases. We work hard to continually improve our already-effective methods and stay on the cutting edge of the ever-changing law. We put in the work, and our clients reap the benefits.
Open communication is one of the core values at Tyroler Leonard Injury Law. We proactively communicate with you, so you are never in the dark. Furthermore, when you have a question or concern your lawyer, and not a less-experienced associate or non-lawyer paralegal, personally addresses that question or concern.
On a related note, Isaac Tyroler, Rachel Sperling Leonard, and our other lead attorneys are not silent partners. They assume complete responsibility for all the work done in your case. Unlike some other law firms, we never over-delegate tasks to support staff. At our law firm, everyone does their own jobs, and everyone does their jobs well.
Physical accessibility is important as well. After victims are seriously injured at work, simply getting around town is challenging, especially on a bad day.
At Tyroler Leonard Injury Law, our work injury lawyers have multiple office locations in multiple states. Chances are, one is close to your home. Furthermore, we embrace video conferencing and other remote access technologies, so we bring our office to you when needed.
Available workers’ compensation benefits, like lost wage replacement and medical bill payment, mean everything to a struggling family.
In most cases, a statutory formula determines the amount of medical bill payment in workers’ compensation claims. This formula usually accounts for the type of injury and the victim’s geographic location. Medical care is more expensive in some parts of Minnesota.
There is some leeway in these rules. Different doctors have different methods of treating the same injury.
Furthermore, some exceptions to this formula apply, especially in areas like hearing loss and other occupational diseases. We use these exceptions as much as possible. The final settlement in these cases more accurately reflects the actual amount of medical bills in a case.
Lost wage replacement is more subjective. Generally, there are four kinds of lost wage replacement benefits available in Minnesota:
- Temporary Total Disability: Generally, job injury victims cannot work as they recover from their injuries. Most families have little or no savings. Therefore, a few months without a paycheck, or even a few weeks without one, could be devastating. To ease this financial burden, workers’ compensation usually pays two-thirds of a victim’s average weekly wage for the duration of a TTD.
- Temporary Partial Disability: Occasionally, victims can work part-time as they recover. Or, they can work full-time, but they can only work light-duty jobs. In these situations, workers’ compensation usually pays two-thirds of the difference between the old and new incomes. This benefit helps injured workers feel productive without compromising the physical recovery process.
- Permanent Total Disability: Sometimes, job injuries are so severe that the victims cannot work again. A PTD determination depends not only on the victim’s medical condition but also on the victim’s vocational and educational profile. Paraplegia is debilitating to most workers, but not to all workers. The workers’ compensation benefits in these cases usually depend on the facts of the case.
- Permanent Partial Disability: Permanent disability benefits are available in these cases as well. Once again, the amount of benefits usually depends on the nature and extent of the disability. Frequently, these benefits are available to TTD and TPD victims who reach their MMI (maximum medical improvement) before they fully heal. For example, if Tina breaks her shoulder at work, she may permanently lose some range of motion in that joint.
These lost wage replacement benefits usually hinge on the victim’s average weekly wage (AWW). Prior grades, and only prior grades, determine a student’s grade point average (GPA). In contrast, a combination of prior wages and future wages determine a worker’s AWW. If Tina misses future overtime opportunities at work because she is rehabilitating her shoulder, she must be compensated for those future losses under Minnesota law.
How We Can Help
At Tyroler Leonard Injury Law, we take care of first things first. We are not doctors, but we have professional relationships with doctors in the community. These physicians know how to diagnose and treat specific kinds of trauma injuries and occupational diseases. Minnesota law gives work injury victims the right to choose their own doctors. We urge victims to exercise that right.
As a bonus, because of our professional relationship, these physicians usually change nothing upfront for their professional services.
As your claim moves through the system, we bring our advocacy and negotiation skills to bear on your behalf. Many workers’ compensation lawyers are good at one of these things, but not both of them.
Our advocacy skills are on display during an Administrative Law Judge appeal hearing. An ALJ hearing is basically like a civil trial.
Perhaps more importantly, our St. Paul job injury lawyers are excellent negotiators. We know when to stand firm and when to compromise. As a result, we obtain maximum compensation for your serious injuries without unduly delaying the settlement process.
The Workers’ Compensation Claims Process
Ideally, a workers’ compensation attorney in St. Paul could simply wave a magic wand and victims would get the financial benefits they need and deserve. Unfortunately, lawyers do not have magic wands. The workers’ compensation claims process varies slightly in different situations. However, most claims follow the same basic outline.
The job injury claims process usually begins with a Claims Examiner review. A Claims Examiner reviewing a victim’s job injury petition is a little like a teacher reviewing a student’s essay.
Many teachers give many students failing grades without reading their essays. In many cases, turning in an assignment late or failing to write on the correct topic is an automatic F.
Likewise, Claims Examiners often reject injury petitions without reviewing them. They claim the victim missed the claims deadline or failed to submit all required paperwork, like income statements and medical bills.
Some teachers give students failing grades, or at least lower grades, because of punctuation, grammar, and other technical errors.
Claims Examiners often do basically the same thing. Many work injury victims complete forms incorrectly, mostly because they do not understand the forms, as mentioned above. Claims Examiners have little sympathy and even less patience in these areas. Instead of giving the victim a chance to redo the paperwork, they often simply deny the claim.
Finally, essays are subjective. Some teachers simply do not like some writing, just like some readers simply do not like Shakespeare.
Job injury petitions are subjective as well. The paperwork may not be sufficient to convince a Claims Examiner that the victim sustained a work-related injury, even though there is nothing technically wrong with the petition.
So, an initial denial does not mean your claim is weak and you should abandon it. In fact, quite the opposite is true. An initial denial simply gives victims the right to partner with St. Paul job injury lawyers as their claims move through the system.
This section will be quite brief. First, not all workers’ compensation insurance companies require supplemental review. Second, senior Claims Examiners normally do not like to overrule their colleagues.
Nevertheless, supplemental review sometimes reverses an unfavorable decision, especially if the victim has a work injury attorney at this point. Lawyers often point out obvious errors, like a failure to properly consider all medical evidence.
Victims appeal unfavorable supplemental reviews by scheduling Administrative Law Judge hearings. Many victims wait several months for an ALJ hearing. That delay gives a St. Paul job injury lawyer a chance to refine a case. That delay also gives the parties time to negotiate a settlement.
The Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Division has a mediation section. Frequently, bureaucrats assign mediators to supervise negotiations between an insurance company and a St. Paul work injury lawyer.
These negotiations usually cover the amount of lost wage replacement and proper medical bill reimbursement, as outlined above.
Most likely, informal negotiations began before supervised negotiation began. Most likely, these informal talks stalled or broke down.
We mentioned declining workers’ compensation insurance premiums above. Lawmakers hope that lower premiums lure more businesses to Minnesota. But lower premiums do not just affect injured workers. They also reduce insurance company profits. Therefore, during informal negotiations, most insurance companies do not give much ground.
Since later negotiations are supervised, they often bear fruit. In fact, civil mediation is about 90 percent successful in St. Paul.
Administrative Law Judge Hearing
If the examination of a claim is like a teacher grading papers, an ALJ hearing is like the trials we see on TV and in the movies. The biggest difference is that there is no jury in an ALJ hearing.
For the most part, ALJs have the same powers as elected or appointed state or federal judges. ALJs may consider legal arguments from St. Paul workers’ compensation attorneys. They also allow lawyers to introduce evidence that supports their claims and challenge the other side’s evidence.
Most ALJs carefully consider cases before they issue formal, written opinions a few weeks or months later.
Evidence in a St. Paul Worker’s Compensation Claim
Usually, the evidence in a job injury claim includes witness statements, medical evidence, and lifestyle statements.
Most witnesses do not immediately and voluntarily come forward, usually because they are afraid the boss will retaliate against them if they help an injured worker. But chances are, someone saw something. A witness could testify about the hazard that caused a trauma injury, the conditions that caused an occupational disease, or the victim’s injury itself.
Medical records are usually the beginning of the medical evidence in a case. These records include diagnostic and treatment information, along with the costs of these treatments. However, these records often do not include pain notations or other treatment notes. Additional witnesses, perhaps even an expert witness, may need to provide such information.
Lifestyle statements are post-injury witness statements. Co-workers, family members, neighbors, and friends cannot testify about the injury. But they can testify about how that injury affects the victim daily.
“No fault benefits” does not mean “automatic benefits.” A failed drug test, horseplay, and a lack of evidence are the most common defenses in workers’ compensation claims.
In Minnesota and most other states, injured workers are ineligible for benefits if they were under the influence of drugs at the time of the injury. This defense is only available in trauma injury claims.
Different insurance companies define “under the influence” differently in different circumstances. There is little or no uniformity in this area. Furthermore, if a victim missed a scheduled drug test because of his/her injury, a St. Paul work injury lawyer can usually arrange for a retest.
Finally, unless everything about the test, such as sample collection and storage, is done by the book, a St. Paul work injury attorney can usually exclude the results from consideration.
Horseplay is a reckless activity that is completely unrelated to the victim’s job. Assume Tina races against her colleague to see who can clean the pool area first. That activity is certainly reckless. However, it is not completely unrelated to the job, so horseplay did not cause Tina’s injury.
A lack of evidence defense in a workers’ compensation claim generally involves an evidence interpretation issue.
Return-to-work clearance is a good example. As mentioned, injured Minnesota workers may choose their own doctors. A company doctor may review medical records and claim that a victim can return to work earlier than the victim’s personal doctor allows. In these situations, additional expert testimony may be necessary for a St. Paul workers’ compensation attorney to tip the balance of evidence in the victim’s favor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Since workers’ compensation claims in St. Paul are so complex, many injured workers have many questions about their legal and financial rights.
How does workers’ compensation work?
Which situation qualifies an employee for workers’ compensation coverage?
What if I can’t work because of an injury?
Can you get fired for taking time off for an injury?
Reach Out to an Experienced Ramsey County Lawyer
Job injury victims are entitled to significant compensation. But insurance company lawyers strongly oppose these requests. To get the benefits your family needs and deserves, contact the experienced St. Paul workers’ compensation lawyers at Tyroler Leonard Injury Law for a free consultation. You pay nothing unless we win your case.
Call us today at 651-259-1113.
”Isaac Tyroler was great to work with when I needed someone to represent me when I got injured. I would recommend him to anyone if they needed someone. Thank you Isaac!” – Jennifer Schlosser (Google Review)