Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Recession, Unemployment, Layoffs, and Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Wage Loss Benefits

In January 2009, Minnesota lost 20,700 jobs as the nationwide and worldwide recession continues to deepen, according to figures recently released by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). Job losses in January included 9,600 in manufacturing, 5,900 in professional and business services, 3,900 in government, 1,700 in other services, 1,600 in construction, and 500 in leisure and hospitality.

Under Minnesota Workers’ Compensation law, laid-off workers may be entitled to wage loss benefits, if a work injury affects their ability to find employment after being laid off. As employers lay off more and more workers, often the first to be let go are employees with work injuries.

We frequently see people who have worked for a company for many years, and who have sustained a number of work injuries over the years. When these companies cut back employees, these long-timers are often the first to go. We also frequently see individuals who are hurt at work, are under some sort of work restrictions, and are suddenly let go for “economic” reasons.

If an injured worker is laid off and he or she some kind of occupational limitations due to his or her work injuries, the injured worker is often entitled to temporary total disability benefits and the assistance of a Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant (QRC) while he or she looks for work. If those individuals find employment, but are earning less, they may be entitled to temporary partial disability benefits. Given the terrible economy, finding a new job is becoming more and more difficult, particularly if a worker has physical limitations due to a work injury.

If you have a work injury, you have physical limitations as a result of that injury, and you are laid off, you would be wise to contact a workers’ compensation attorney to ensure you receive the benefits you are entitled to. Many if not most injured workers are not aware of their rights under workers’ compensation law if they are laid off, and the employer and insurer are certainly not going to voluntarily tell the employee that they may be entitled to additional benefits. In fact, is extremely common for employers or insurers to deny ongoing benefits to an injured worker after a layoff, on the grounds that the employee was laid off for economic reasons. This in and of itself is generally not a sufficient ground to deny wage loss benefits.

Moreover, even if you sustained a work injury, but were laid off before you reported it, or you suffer from a repetitive motion injury which occurred over a long period of time as the result of your work activities, but you did not require medical treatment until after you were laid off, you may still be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

Laying off an injured worker for economic reasons does not relieve an employer of the responsibility for paying for wage loss benefits if that injured worker has difficulty finding new employment due to physical limitations caused by the work injury.

We have successfully secured benefits on behalf of many clients who had work injuries and were subsequently laid off. By way of example, in 2007, Macy’s closed a large furniture distribution center in Minneapolis, laying off about 80 employees. Many of these employees had worked for Macy’s for 20 or more years. We were retained by several of these former Macy’s workers, who over the course of their lengthy employments with Dayton-Hudson, and then Macy’s, had sustained numerous work related injuries. Our firm successfully secured sizable settlements for these laid off workers.

If you suffer from the effects of a work-related injury, and you’ve been laid off, call Meuser & Associates at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email to schedule a free consultation.

Visit our website at MeuserLaw.com!
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