Monday, August 24, 2009

Most Dangerous Jobs

It doesn’t matter whether you work in a highly hazardous occupation or whether you have a career that doesn’t pose much risk of injury – if you sustain an injury arising out of your work, and within the course and scope of your employment in Minnesota, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the ten most hazardous occupations in 2006:

1. Fishermen and women and fishing workers. 141.7 fatalities per 100,000 workers.

2. Airline pilots and flight engineers. 87.8 fatalities per 100,000 workers.

3. Logging workers. 82.1 fatalities per 100,000 workers.

4. Structural steel and iron workers. 61.0 fatalities per 100,000 workers.

5. Refuse and recyclable materials handlers and collectors. 41.8 fatalities per 100,000 workers.

6. Farmers and ranchers. 37.1 fatalities per 100,000 workers.

7. Power line-installers and repairers. 34.9 fatalities per 100,000 workers.

8. Roofers. 33.9 fatalities per 100,000 workers.

9. Traveling sales people and truck drivers. 27.1 fatalities per 100,000 workers.

10. Miscellaneous agricultural workers. 21.7 fatalities per 100,000 workers.

Thankfully, for most workers, the chances of being fatally injured on the job are slim. In 2006, there were only 3.9 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers. There were a total of 5,703 work-related deaths in the United States in 2006.

If you or a loved one suffers a fatal work-related injury, Minnesota workers’ compensation law provides a variety of death and dependency benefits.

If you are injured on the job in Minnesota, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, including medical expense benefits, wage loss benefits, permanency benefits, and/or rehabilitation or retraining benefits.

If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, call Meuser & Associates at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your rights under Minnesota workers’ compensation law.

Visit Minnesota Workers' Compensation and Personal Injury Law Firm, Meuser & Associates, P.A., at

Monday, August 17, 2009

Attention Motorcyclists: Be Sure You Have Sufficient Insurance Coverage

According to the Star Tribune, one person was killed and another seriously injured in a Chisago County motorcycle versus mini-van accident on Wednesday, August 12, 2009. According to the article, the minivan ran a stop sign, hitting the motorcycle.

As of the end of July 29 motorcyclists had been killed in Minnesota this year. At the same time last year, there were 26 deaths. The article also notes that August and September are typically the most deadly in terms of motorcycle accidents.

Last year, there were a total of 72 deaths – the most since 1985. All other types of motor vehicle deaths have been on the decline, but deadly motorcycle accidents appear to be on the rise.

Meuser & Associates frequently represents people who are hurt in motorcycle versus car accidents. Unfortunately, regardless of fault, the motorcyclist usually is on the losing end of a motorcycle versus car crash. Invariably, the injuries are severe.

Unlike other vehicles in Minnesota, motorcycle owners are required to carry only liability insurance. Motorcyclists are not required to carry no-fault insurance, uninsured motorist coverage, or underinsured coverage.

It’s an unfortunate truth that motorcycle crashes usually result in severe injuries. As such, I can’t recommend strongly enough that motorcycle owners purchase sufficient no-fault insurance, uninsured motorist insurance, and underinsured motorist insurance to cover medical expenses, wage loss, and pain and suffering in case of a severe accident. Too often we see motorcyclists who suffer significant injuries but the at-fault party either has no insurance, or their insurance coverage is not sufficient to compensate the injured motorcyclist for his or her medical expenses, wage loss, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Even if you are at fault, or involved in a single-vehicle crash, no-fault insurance covers your medical expenses and some wage loss. No-fault insurance is also the first line of insurance that covers your initial medical expenses if you are involved in a crash where the other vehicle is at fault.

If you are hit by an at-fault driver who has no insurance, uninsured motorist insurance covers additional medical expenses, wage loss, and intangible losses, like pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. Unfortunately, way too many Minnesota drivers are out there on the roads without legally required liability insurance.

Even if the at-fault driver does have insurance, it’s often not enough to cover your losses. If you purchase underinsured motorist coverage, it provides an additional line of insurance coverage above and beyond the at-fault driver’s insurance. If you’re hit by a vehicle while you’re on a motorcycle, you are almost certainly going to be taken by ambulance to an emergency room. If you have severe injuries, your medical bills can exceed $50,000.00 within hours. Minnesota requires drivers to carry a minimum of only $30,000.00 in liability insurance. The defendant driver’s insurance may not even be enough to cover your emergency room visit.

It’s also important to note that the no-fault, uninsured, and underinsured insurance you have on your car will not provide coverage for injuries sustained while you’re on your motorcycle.

If you or a loved one was injured as the result of a motorcycle accident, contact Meuser & Associates at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email to schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers.

Visit Minnesota Workers' Compensation and Personal Injury Law Firm, Meuser & Associates, P.A., at

Thursday, August 13, 2009

As Temperatures Rise, Watch Out for Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

While we’ve had a relatively cool summer this year, the forecast suggests that temperatures are going to be hotter in August.

People who work outdoors like construction workers, builders, road workers, utility workers, police officers, maintenance workers, landscapers, city workers, and heavy equipment operators need to be especially wary of heat-related work injuries.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include a fever of 104 degrees or less, thirst, fainting, cool and clammy skin, weakness, aching muscles, sweating, slow heartbeat and dizziness. If you are experiencing these symptoms it is important to rest, get out of the sun, cool off, and re-hydrate.

Heat stroke is a life threatening condition when heat exhaustion goes untreated or unrelieved. Heat stroke takes place when the body temperature rises and the cooling system of the body stops working. Symptoms of heat stroke involve shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and rapid heart beat.

If you require medical attention after suffering heat exhaustion or heat stroke on the job, your medical expenses are most likely covered by workers’ compensation. If you miss work due to a heat injury, you may also be entitled to wage loss benefits.

Prevention is the best cure when it comes to heat exhaustion and heat stoke during these hot summer months. Avoid excessively strenuously activity when temperatures go up, take frequent rest breaks, and keep hydrated.

If you’ve suffered a heat-related work injury and have questions about your workers’ compensation rights, contact Meuser & Associates at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email to schedule a free consultation.

Visit Minnesota Workers' Compensation and Personal Injury Law Firm, Meuser & Associates, P.A., at

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Calculating Permanent Partial Disability (PPD): MN Work Comp

One of the workers’ compensation benefits available to injured workers in Minnesota is Permanent Partial Disability (PPD).

If your doctor determines that you’ve suffered a permanent injury, your doctor may issue what’s known as a “permanency rating.” Minnesota law sets forth a schedule for assigning permanency ratings to almost any type of permanent injury imaginable. This percentage is then multiplied by a dollar figure to determine the amount of the PPD benefit you are entitled to.

Generally, doctors do not assign permanency ratings until you have been placed at Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). PPD may be paid weekly, or it may be paid in a lump sum. PPD is generally not payable while you are still receiving Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits, but you may receive PPD while you are receiving Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) or Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits.

Let’s look at an example:

Let’s assume you suffered a low back injury on the job and the workers’ compensation insurance company has admitted liability. Let’s also assume you underwent an MRI that shows a disc herniation at L4-5 that does not appear to be impinging on nerve roots or on the spinal canal. About a year after your injury, you are still experiencing back pain, and symptoms into your buttocks and leg. Your doctor concludes that you still need ongoing occasional treatment, but that your condition is permanent and you’re not likely to see major improvement with any kind of medical procedure.

Based on these facts, you would probably qualify for Permanent Partial Disability benefits. Specifically, your injury would probably qualify for a 7% rating based on Minnesota Rule 5223.0390, Subpart 4(C)(1).

This 7% rating is then multiplied by a dollar amount. Impairment ratings between 6-10 percent are multiplied by $80,000.00 which equals $5,600.00.

Seems simple, right? Determining the amount of PPD benefits you are entitled to should be relatively straight-forward. Unfortunately, insurance companies frequently underpay injured workers the amount of permanency benefits they are entitled to. If you have a permanent work injury, it’s wise to speak with a workers’ compensation lawyer to make sure the insurance company pays you the PPD benefits you are entitled to.

Doctors don’t always automatically issue permanency ratings. If your doctor never issues a permanency rating for your injury, the insurance company will probably never pay you permanency benefits. Even if your doctor does issue a permanency rating, the insurance company might simply ignore it and never pay you the benefits you are entitled to.

While the schedules are intended to be fairly straightforward, in many cases, the level of permanency benefits you are entitled to may fall somewhere between ratings. For example, if a worker has a back injury and an MRI shows a herniation, and that worker is experiencing radicular symptoms, there may be a question as to whether that herniation impinges on a nerve root or not. There are different levels of permanency depending on whether an MRI evidences nerve root impingment. As a rule, the insurance company will always pay the lower permanency level.

Another situation that frequently comes up is where there are multiple body parts injured in one accident. For example, if you sustain an injury to both your neck and shoulder, you may be entitled to permanency benefits for both your shoulder and your neck. There is a specific way to combine these ratings and insurance companies often miscalculate the rating.

If there is any suggestion that your injury may have been pre-existing, or that part of your condition existed prior to your work injury, the insurance company will almost inevitably try to either avoid paying PPD benefits altogether, or they will try to take a deduction for whatever alleged “pre-existing” condition you may have. This scenario comes up very frequently with back and neck injuries.

For more information on calculating your PPD benefits, check out the following:

Minnesota Permanency Schedules
PPD Benefit Table

While calculating Minnesota workers’ compensation Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits should be relatively straightforward, the insurance company will rarely voluntarily pay the full level of benefits you are entitled to. Make sure you’re paid all the PPD benefits you’re entitled to. Call Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our lawyers.

Visit Minnesota Workers' Compensation and Personal Injury Law Firm, Meuser & Associates, P.A., at

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