Friday, April 22, 2011

Avoid Ladder Disasters: Minnesota Workers’ Comp.

According to OSHA, falls account for more than 16 percent of workplace injuries and almost 13 percent of all workplace deaths. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 532,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, and clinics in 2007 after falling off a ladder. Unfortunately, injuries that occur as a result of a fall from a ladder are often severe.

The nature and extent of injuries that occur as a result of ladder falls depends on the distance of the fall, what parts of the body hit the ground first, the position of your body parts when you fall and land, and the type of surface you land on.

Ladder falls can result in serious injuries, including spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, or herniated discs. Sometimes these injuries can be life-changing.

There are things you can do to prevent falls from ladders.

Always inspect a ladder before use. Make sure ladder rungs are in place, intact, free from slippery substances, and have slip resistant surfaces. Make sure support braces, bolts, and screws are in place and tight. Make sure metal parts are lubricated. Inspect rope and check for wear or fraying. Ensure that spreaders or locking devices are in place. Check for splinters or sharp edges. Check to ensure that safety feet are in place. Check for dents and bends in metal ladders.

Select the right ladder for the job. I-A (heavy duty) ladders can hold up to 300 pounds, including the worker and his or her equipment. I (heavy duty) ladders can hold up to 250 pounds including a worker and equipment. II (medium duty) ladders can hold 225 pounds, and III (light) ladders can only hold up to 200 pounds. In addition, a stepladder should be no more than 20 feet high, a one-section ladder should be no more than 30 feet high, and an extension ladder can go up to 60 feet, but the sections must overlap.

Set up ladders properly. Ladders should be placed on a level surface, and wide boards should be used beneath the ladder on soft ground. A ladder’s feet should be parallel with the surface the ladder is resting against. The ladder should be extended so there are at least three feet above the top support. The top of the ladder should be anchored, and the bottom should be tied or held. A ladder should not be rested on a window or window sash, and should not be placed in front of a door. The distance from the base of the ladder to the wall should be one-fourth of the ladder. Extension ladders should be positioned before being extended.

Be safe while working on ladders. One person on a ladder at a time. Wear shoes with non-skid soles. Face the ladder while climbing up or down, and hold the rails with both hands. Carry tools up or down on a belt or with a rope or hoist, not in your hands. Keep one hand on the ladder while you work. Don’t step on the top two stepladder steps or top four ladder rungs. Keep your body centered on the ladder. Don’t move a ladder while you’re on it. Move slowly and cautiously while working on the ladder.

For more great ladder safety tips, visit Safety Daily Advisor.

If you’ve sustained injuries as a result of an on-the-job fall from a ladder in Minnesota, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits include medical expenses, wage loss benefits, rehabilitation benefits, and permanent partial disability benefits.

For a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about your Minnesota workers’ compensation rights, contact attorney Jen Yackley or Ron Meuser at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email.

Got questions about MN workers' comp? Visit our Minnesota Workers' Compensation FAQ!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Vote for Jake LaFerriere: America's Most Wanted All-Star!

Voting starts today, April 21, 2011, for Minneapolis' own Jacob LaFerriere for America's Most Wanted 2011 All-Star which recognizes and honors America's most inspirational first-responders.


Jake suffered severe injuries while battling a house fire in July 2010, and his recovery, great attitude, and generosity have been nothing less than inspirational. To read more about his story, check out these links:

Minnesota Firefighter Jake LaFerriere Is In Line to Win $10,000 In America's Most Wanted All-Star Contest

Jake LaFerriere: Why We Do What We Do

Click here to vote for Jake! Voting runs from today, April 21, 2011 through May 8, 2011. You can vote once per day, per email. Let's help him win!

Help spread the word! Cross-posting of this post is permitted and encouraged!

At Meuser & Associate, we feel honored to work with wonderful people like Jake.

You Can Afford a GREAT MN Work Comp Lawyer!

In Minnesota, attorney fees in workers’ compensation cases are set by statute, which means that the cost for our services is set by law. Because our fees are set by statute, cost shouldn’t factor into your decision as to whether to hire a lawyer, or which lawyer you decide to retain. We’re all paid the same amount. That means you can afford the BEST workers’ compensation lawyer in the state, or you can get the worst lawyer in the state, and the fees will be the same, although the best lawyer will probably be able to secure more benefits for you.

Workers’ compensation attorney fees in Minnesota are set at 25% of the first $4,000.00 in benefits recovered, and 20% thereafter, up to a maximum of $13,000.00 in attorney fees per date of injury.

In certain complex or difficult cases, your attorney can petition the court to allow fees beyond the $13,000.00 maximum. In cases involving disputes over your entitlement to medical care or rehabilitation benefits, your attorney can petition the court to award hourly fees called Roraff or Heaton fees, that are paid by the workers’ compensation insurance company, separately from any monetary benefits you receive.

Minnesota law-makers recognize the fact that the vast majority of injured workers can’t afford to hire an attorney and pay a retainer or hourly fees. That is why attorney fees in Minnesota workers’ compensation are contingent.

When attorney fees are “contingent,” it means that the attorney fees are set as a percentage of the amount of benefits that are recovered on behalf of the injured worker. It also means you pay nothing up front, you don’t pay a retainer, and you pay no attorney fees out of pocket. A Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer should never ask you to pay attorney fees up front, or ask for a monetary retainer.

“Contingent” attorney fees also means that if your attorney is unsuccessful in securing benefits for you, there is no attorney fee. That means that you literally take on no risk by pursuing a workers’ compensation case. A workers’ compensation lawyer that takes on your case on a contingency fee basis bears 100% of the risk of being unsuccessful. Even if you lose, and your attorney spent 1,000 hours of time on your case, you won’t have a bill for his or her services at the end of your case.

Workers’ compensation attorneys also generally front all costs associated with your case. For example, it usually costs a few hundred dollars to secure copies of all your medical records, it may cost a few hundred dollars for deposition transcripts, and expert opinions can cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars. In some cases, the costs are minimal. In complex cases, the costs can run into the thousands or more. In Minnesota, reasonable costs incurred by your attorney in pursuing your case are reimbursable by the workers’ compensation insurance company, which means reimbursement for costs don’t come out of your pocket—they come out of the insurance company’s pocket.  

Attorney fees in workers’ compensation cases are also limited to situations where there is a dispute. I’ve had clients tell me that their workers’ compensation adjuster told them that if they hire a lawyer, attorney fees will be taken out of their benefits, and they’ll get less money. That’s absolutely not the case. If your claim is admitted and the workers’ compensation insurance company is paying you benefits, no attorney fees will be withheld from your benefits. Attorney fees are only withheld if there is a dispute and your attorney has to do something either to secure your right to those benefits, or to prevent the insurance company from stopping those benefits.

It costs you nothing to speak with a Minnesota workers’ compensation attorney. We offer free, no-obligation consultations, which means that we sit down with you, discuss the facts of your case, talk about the types of workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to, give you suggestions as to how best to proceed on your case, point out issues on your case that might cause problems, give you advice on how to protect your rights, and help you formulate a plan to help you end up where you want to be.

Our consultations are also no-obligation, which means that after you meet with us, and you decide you don’t need or want a lawyer, you’re not obligated to retain us. The important thing is that you’re more knowledgeable about your rights under Minnesota workers’ compensation law. Don’t assume that the workers’ compensation insurance company will tell you what your rights are. In fact, the general rule is that insurance companies generally are not obligated to tell your rights under Minnesota workers’ compensation law. If there's a "gray area" on your case as to whether you are entitled to certain benefits or not, the insurance company most certainly won't tell you, "well, you might have a claim for x, y, and z."

A lot of folks wait until there’s a dispute stewing between them and the insurance company over wage loss or medical treatment to speak with a lawyer. You do not need to wait until there’s a dispute. Even if the workers’ compensation insurance company has accepted liability for your work injury, it’s usually just a matter of time before a dispute does arise.

Even if you don't think there's a dispute on your case, you'd be shocked how often the workers' compensation insurance company underpays benefits. Some common underpayments we see involve undercalculating a worker's average weekly wage (AWW), failing to pay temporary partial disability  (TPD) benefits, underpaying permament partial disability (PPD) benefits or simply not paying PPD at all. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that you're entitled to additional benefits after consulting with a Minnesota workers' compensation lawyer.

If you retain a Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer before a dispute arises on your case, we can provide you advice and guidance as your claim progresses to avoid a lot of common mistakes injured people make that can adversely affect their claims. It also allows us, as your attorneys, to spot issues before they come up, and to help guide you through the situation to protect your interests, and help you direct your claim in the direction you want it to go.

For a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about your rights under Minnesota workers’ compensation law, call Jen or Ron at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email.

Visit us at MeuserLaw.com to learn more about your workers' compensation rights.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Applying for PERA Duty Disability Benefits: Five Easy Mistakes to Avoid

We represent many, many police officers and firefighters covered under the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) Police and Fire Plan, for workers’ compensation claims, personal injury claims, and PERA disability claims.

If you are a Minnesota police officer or firefighter, and if you have a disability that is expected to prevent you from performing your normal duties as a police officer or firefighter for a period of at least a year, and if your disability “is the direct result of an injury incurred during, or a disease arising out of, the performance of normal duties or the actual performance of less frequent duties, either of which are specific to protecting the property and personal safety of others and that present inherent dangers that are specific to the positions covered by the public employees police and fire plan,” Minn. Stat. §353.01, Subd. 45 (2009), you may be eligible for PERA duty disability benefits.

PERA duty disability benefits start at a minimum of 60% of your average salary over your five highest-paid consecutive years of service. This is the equivalent to a retirement benefit based on 20 years of service. If you have in excess of 20 years of service, you will receive an additional 3% of your salary for every year beyond 20 years of service.

PERA regular disability benefits start at 45% of your salary, or the equivalent of 15 years of service. Police and Fire Plan members who have an illness or injury expected to prevent them from performing the normal duties of their position for a period of a year, but the injury or illness was not-work related, or does otherwise meet the definition of “Duty disability,” may be eligible for Regular Disability Benefits.

In addition PERA Police and Fire Plan members may also be eligible for continuation of health care coverage under Minn. Stat. §299A.465, if they also qualify for duty disability benefits. That means the Employer must continue to pay your health insurance premiums until age 65.

These benefits can be worth thousands and thousands of dollars! Meuser & Associate regularly represents PERA Police and Fire Plan Members, PERA Corrections Plan Members, MSRS State Corrections Plan Members, and State Troopers covered under MSRS, for duty disability applications and appeals, healthcare continuation under Minn. Stat. §299A.465 applications and appeals, and regular disability applications and appeals.

Unfortunately, we see a lot of folks make mistakes when they’re applying for these benefits, and then they have to retain us to appeal an adverse decision. Most often, people applying for PERA benefits get denied, or don’t get awarded the benefit they’re applying for because they made mistakes on the initial application. It’s easier (and cheaper) to get it right the first time you apply, than it is to appeal and try to fix some easily avoided mistakes you made on your initial application.

  1. Schedule a time to meet with a PERA or MSRS retirement counselor before you start completing your application. They will explain the various types of disability benefits that are available to you, and explain the application process. Many times, they are also kind enough to point out potential issues they might spot with your claim.
  2. You are generally required to submit reports from two doctors indicating that you are disabled from performing the duties of a firefighter or police officer for a period of at least a year. Bring a copy of your job duties to your appointment, and explain to your doctor exactly what they need to fill out. If your doctors don’t indicate on the forms that you can’t perform the duties of a police officer or firefighter for a period of at least one year, you will not be considered to be disabled. This seems self-explanatory, but submitting forms that indicate you're not disabled will not help you get approved. Unfortunately, I've seen people do this in at least three separate cases.
  3. The PERA disability application form gives space for about one paragraph to explain how your injuries occurred, and another paragraph to summarize your medical treatment. Don’t be afraid to attach additional pages to explain precisely how your injury occurred, and the medical treatment you’ve received. The PERA application form doesn’t really indicate the statutory requirements to qualify for duty disability, i.e., that your injuries or illness was incurred while performing duties that are specific to protecting property or safety, and that present inherent dangers specific to police officers or firefighters. If you don't do an adequate job of explaining how your injury fits into this definition, you may be denied duty disability benefits.
  4. If your injury occurred more than 2 years before your disability began, special rules apply, or at least that’s how PERA is interpreting the law. For example, if you had a back injury, tried conservative therapy, underwent surgery, then tried to return to full duty, only to realize a couple years later that it just isn’t going to work, you will need to show that your disability prevents you from performing your duties in the 90 days prior to your application. PERA has interpreted this to mean that if your injury was over 2 years prior to your application, and you pushed papers on light duty in the 90 days before you apply, you must show that your disability prevents you from doing those light duty assignments. In many cases, you may be better off waiting until 90 days after your light duty ends to apply for PERA benefits. This is a very case specific situation, but you certainly don’t want to get denied for either regular disability or duty disability benefits based on what, in our opinion, is poor wording in the language of the statute.
  5. If your claim is denied by PERA, or if you get awarded regular disability benefits when you think you qualify for duty disability benefits, don’t blow the appeal deadline! Depending on the basis for the denial, if you do not appeal PERA's decision, you may be barred from applying again based on the same injury or condition. If you do appeal, you will have adequate time to put together the materials you need to dispute the determination. And don’t wait until the day your appeal is due to consult with an attorney! Don’t assume that PERA’s right if you are denied. We can advise you if you have a basis for an appeal.
We’ve represented many Minnesota police officers and firefighters in applying for PERA benefits, and in appealing adverse determinations. Here’s some examples of a few of our more recent successes:

  • A young police officer sustained a shoulder injury several years ago while performing defensive tactics training. He had four surgeries to correct the problem with his shoulder, but kept going back to work. Last year, he seriously re-injured his shoulder while performing CPR, and underwent two more shoulder surgeries. Six shoulder surgeries later, and looking at a total shoulder replacement before age 40, his doctors finally convinced him that he can no longer perform the duties of a police officer. We completed his application for PERA duty disability benefits, which was approved within a matter of weeks, and he was also awarded healthcare continuation coverage under §299A.465.
  • A firefighter was at the scene of a major traffic accident on a Minnesota interstate. He parked a firetruck to block traffic because of the extremely icy conditions. As he was getting out of the rig, he slipped on the icy running board, and got hung up on the door handle, jerking his shoulder. After numerous conservative treatments failed, his doctors ultimately told him he could not continue working as a firefighter. This firefighter was over the age of 55, and had more than 20 years of service, so he was not eligible for duty disability benefits. He was, however, eligible for healthcare continuation under §299A.465, which we applied for and secured on his behalf.
  • A firefighter sustained a low back injury while performing CPR on a patient for an extended period of time. while his doctors determined that he was not a candidate for surgery, they ultimately concluded that he could not continue to safely perform the duties of a firefighter. We completed his application for PERA duty disability benefits, for which he was approved, and we also secured healthcare continuation benefits on his behalf.
  • A young firefighter injured her back while carrying a piece of equipment about four years ago, and suffered a severe flare up about a year and a half ago. She was placed under restrictions and was forced to resign when the fire department had no light duty available. She applied for disability benefits, but was denied because all three doctors reports she submitted indicated that she would NOT be disabled as a firefighter for a period of at least a year. We appealed because it was clear that her doctors didn’t fully understand the forms they completed for her. She underwent an FCE that showed that she was not physically capable of performing the duties of a firefighter, her doctors completed new forms indicating that she was disabled from performing the duties of a firefighter for a period of one year, and one of her doctors wrote a detailed expert opinion about the causes of her condition. We submitted this additional evidence and requested an administrative hearing, but PERA reversed its decision, awarding her PERA regular disability benefits, based on the additional evidence we secured and submitted on her behalf.
If you’re considering applying for PERA or MSRS disability benefits, it’s wise to consult with an attorney. For folks that find us on the internet, we offer a free, no-obligation consultation. Make sure you let us know you found us online. If we don’t think you have a claim, we’ll tell you. If we think you have a claim, but see some potential issues, we’ll tell you what they are. If you have a slam dunk case, we’ll tell you so, and you can decide whether or not you need our assistance in applying. If you don’t want to deal with the headache, or are concerned about putting together all of the information you need, we can complete your application for you. If you simply want to learn about disability benefits as a “back-up” plan, we’re happy to discuss your options with you.

Contact Jen Yackley or Ron Meuser at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Minnesota Firefighter Jake LaFerriere Is In Line to Win $10,000 In America's Most Wanted All-Star Contest

Jake sent me this Amercia's Most Wanted press release. Make sure to vote for him online every day beginning April 21st as America's Most Wanted All-Star!

Jake's story and his recovery are truly inspiring. Even more inspiring, however, is Jake's kindness and generosity. Despite the severity of his injuries, and his long road to recovery, Jake is using his experiences to help children who've sustained serious burn injuries.

Jake has advised us that if he is selected as America's Most Wanted All-Star, he intends to use the prize to help fund Firefighters for Healing, which helps financially disadvantaged children receive top-of-the-line medical care for burn injuries.

FirefightersforHealing.org is still under construction, but check back soon!



Check out Jake's contestant profile at America's Most Wanted or click here to learn more about  Jake's story.

Visit us at MeuserLaw.com!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Keep Safe in Minnesota Work Zones! MnDOT Starts Roadwork Projects

Now that winter’s (mostly) over, it’s time for road construction season in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Transportation announced its $900 million 2011 transportation construction program to increase safety, improve mobility, expand capacity, and preserve infrastructure statewide.

There are 258 state highway construction projects planned, as well as railroad crossing upgrades, repairs to seawalls and docks, runway and terminal repairs, and transit facility remodeling. “MnDOT is focused on improving our roads and bridges and maximizing the capacity of our multimodal transportation system to give the traveling public more options and improve Minnesotans’ quality of life,” said Tom Sorel, MnDOT Commissioner.

Major Minnesota projects include:
  • Converting Highway 169/Interstate 494 to a freeway to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion in Bloomington, Eden Prairie and Edina.
  • Rebuilding the Highway 52 Lafayette Bridge in St. Paul.
  • Continuing to resurface Interstate 94 between St. Paul and Minneapolis.
  • Constructing a new interchange at Highway 101 and Highway 13 in Savage.
  • Reconstructing the Highway 36 and Rice Street interchange and replacing the Rice Street bridge in Roseville/Little Canada.
  • Replacing and repairing bridge and pavement on Interstate 35 from Boundary Avenue to 26t Avenue East in Duluth.
  • Resurfacing Highway 34 from Park Rapids to Akeley, including installing turn lanes and replacing culverts.
  • Constructing four lanes on Highway 23 east of St. Cloud to Foley.
  • Replacing three bridges and resurfacing Highway 9 from the Norman/Clay county line to Highway 10.
  • Constructing a four-lane expansion, including bridges, on Highway 14 by Waseca.
For a complete list of projects, including construction dates and traffic impacts, visit the MnDOT construction website.

Most injuries and deaths happen to motorists driving through work zones, and the main causes of work zone crashes are excessive speed and inattention by drivers. Remember, fines may double for violating traffic laws in work zones. To keep motorists and construction zone workers safe in highway work zones, MnDOT offers these tips:
  • Obey posted speeds.
  • Watch out for work zones.
  • Stay alert, expect the unexpected.
  • Never enter a roadway that has been blocked with barriers or cones.
  • Don’t tailgate! Keep plenty of space between you and the vehicle ahead.
  • Anticipate lane shifts and merge when directed to do so.
  • Don’t change lanes unnecessarily.
  • Avoid using cell phones and mobile devices while driving in work zones.
  • Be patient. Expect delays, especially during peak travel times
If you’ve sustained injuries as a result of auto collision or a work zone accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Call us at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email to speak with Ron Meuser or Jen Yackley for a free, no-obligation legal consultation.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Riding for Fallen Officers: Officer Tony Ofstead

The Woodbury Bulletin reports that 11-year Woodbury Police Department veteran Tony Ofstead will be going on a 250-mile bike ride from Chesapeake, Virginia to Washington, D.C., in May to raise awareness and funds for two charitable organizations that provide services for families of police officers killed in the line of duty.

Ofstead, with a team of about 20 riders from Minnesota, as members of Law Enforcement United, will raise money and awareness for Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) and the Officers Down Memorial Page.

Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) assists the families of police officers who die in the line of duty, and the Officers Down Memorial Page honors all police officers who are killed in the line of duty.

Team Minnesota’s goal is to raise $20,000.00. Ofstead is also selling Law Enforcement United buttons as part of his fundraising efforts and public donations can also be made at the Law Enforcement United website.

Two Minnesota police officers were killed on the job last year – Mahnomen County sheriff’s deputy Chris Dewey and Maplewood police officer Joe Bergeron – and 162 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty nationwide.

What an incredibly special way to honor and remember police officers who lose their lives in the line of duty.

To learn more about Minnesota workers’ compensation, visit us at MeuserLaw.com.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Health Care Workers and Workplace Violence

According to Medical New Today, in September 2010, a nurse was attacked and beaten by a psychiatric patient at Franklin Hospital in New York. She suffered facial fractures requiring multiple surgeries as part of her recovery.

Unfortunately, this type of on-the job violence faced by nurses and other health care nurses is very common. According to studies, 430,000 nurses are victims of on-the-job violence each year, and OSHA estimates that 48% of all non-fatal injuries from occupational assaults and violence occurred in healthcare and social service settings. Sadly, there were also 69 homicides in the health services between 1996 and 2000. Among all healthcare workers, nurses are most likely to be assaulted, and most assaults occurred in hospitals, nursing and personal care facilities.

In 2000, health service workers overall suffered injuries causing days away from work as a result of violent assault at a rate of 9.3 per 10,000 full-time workers. For social workers, the rate was 15 per 10,000 workers, and for personal care facility workers, the rate was 25 per 10,000. In the overall private sector, the injury rate due to violent assault is 2 per 10,000.

The rate of violence in the health care field is actually much higher than OSHA’s figures represent. According to the Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey for 1993 to 1999, the average annual rate non-fatal violent crime for physicians was 16.2 per 1,000, for nurses, the rate was 21.9 per 1,000, for mental health professionals, the rate was 68.2 per 1,000, and for mental health custodial workers, the rate was 69 per 1,000.

OSHA notes that the actual number of incidents is probably much higher. Violence is likely to be underreported, due in part to the perception within the health care industry that assaults and violence are part of the job. Underreporting may also be due in part to a lack of institutional reporting policies or fear on the part of the employee that reporting violence may reflect poor job performance.

Violence can occur within any area of the health care industry. The health care industry includes public and private hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, home health care services, outpatient care centers, ambulatory care centers, and medical and diagnostic laboratories. Occupations within this field include, but are not limited to, physicians, surgeons, dentists, dental hygienists and assistants, registered nurses (RN), licensed practical nurses (LPN), licensed vocational nurses (LVN), physician’s assistants, social workers, physical therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, radiologists, audiologists, chiropractors, dieticians and nutritionists, pharmacists, optometrists, podiatrists, radiologists, technicians, emergency medical technicians (EMT) and paramedics, nursing aids, certified nursing assistants (CNA), home health aides, orderlies and attendants, occupational therapists, medical assistants, personal aides and home health care aides.

Violence is NOT a normal part of the job, nor is it acceptable. If you’re injured at work, even if it seems relatively minor, it is very important that you report it!

I represented a woman who did in-home health care. Over the course of a few years, she had several separate instances where she was assaulted by the clients she was caring for. At the time, she didn’t really think she was injured, but she started to develop worsening low back pain. Finally, while restraining a client who was demonstrating violent behaviors, her back pain suddenly became severe. Within a few months, she had to undergo a two-level fusion in her low back. All of the relatively small injuries she sustained over a few years contributed to significant wear and tear in the discs in her low back, and the final incident, although it was relatively minor, was the proverbial straw that literally broke her back.

Protect your health and your livelihood by reporting your injuries!

Meuser & Associate has represented dozens and dozens of Minnesota health care workers who have sustained on-the-job injuries as a result of violence, or otherwise. Health care workers who sustain injuries arising out of and in the course and scope of their employment may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

For a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about your Minnesota workers’ compensation rights, and how to protect yourself if you’re injured on the job, call us at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email to speak with Ron Meuser or Jen Yackley.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Can I Receive Social Security Disability (SSDI) and MN Workers’ Compensation at the Same Time?

People who sustain serious injuries at work in Minnesota may be eligible for BOTH workers’ compensation wage loss benefits and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. In other cases, a work injury, in combination with other non-work related medical conditions may qualify an injured worker for both SSDI and Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits.

If you are pursuing a SSDI disability claim, based in whole or in part on a work injury or a medical condition caused by your work activities, you should strongly consider exploring a Minnesota worker’ compensation claim as well.

We routinely meet folks in our Minnesota workers’ compensation practice who pursue a SSDI disability claim and overlook their potential workers’ compensation claims. In many instances, you can receive both! Don’t leave money sitting on the table!

The Social Security Administration (SSA) allows simultaneous receipt of medical and disability benefits with workers’ compensation benefits, up to a maximum of 80% of the employee’s average current earnings (ACE) at the onset of his or her disability. The Social Security Administration will, however, “offset” or reduce SSDI payments if the combination of workers’ compensation and social security benefits exceed 80% of the ACE.

If you are receiving Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits, the employer/insurer does not get an offset from workers’ compensation benefits payable based on receipt of SSDI benefits. Instead, the SSA gets to reduce your SSDI benefits based on the amounts you’re receiving from workers’ compensation.

The situation changes if you’re receiving Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits. Minn. Stat. § 176.101, Subd. 4, permits the workers’ compensation insurance carrier to reduce the weekly compensation benefit dollar-for-dollar based on the receipt of SSDI benefits after paying $25,000.00 in Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits. The employer/insurer only gets the benefit of this offset if the SSDI benefits and the workers’ compensation benefits are based on the same injury or injuries.

If the injury causing your disability occurred before October 1, 1995, you may be eligible for “supplementary benefits” to cover the “gap” between your weekly benefit rate after adjusting for the receipt of SSDI benefits, and the minimum PTD benefit rate.

For injuries on or after October 1, 1995, the Minnesota legislature did away with supplementary benefits. Instead, the legislature has adopted minimum PTD rates. The amount of your monthly SSDI benefit is then subtracted from your compensation rate, or the minimum PTD rate, whichever is higher.

Annual adjustment of benefits may also come into play in PTD claims.

In many cases, you can receive both Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits, and Social Security Disability benefits. As you can see, correctly calculating your benefit rate when you’re receiving both types of benefits is complicated.

If you’ve applied for Social Security Disability benefits based in whole or in part on injuries you sustained at work, you may have a Minnesota workers’ compensation claim in addition to your SSDI claim.

For a free, no-obligation consultation with Jennifer Yackley or Ronald F. Meuser, Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyers, to discuss your potential workers’ compensation claim, call us at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email.

We work on a contingency fee basis, which means our attorney fees are based on the amount we recover on your behalf. It also means that there is no fee unless we recover benefits on your behalf.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Top 25 Property/Casualty Insurance Companies of 2010: How Does Your Insurance Company Rate?

A.M. Best released its annual list of the top 25 insurance companies in terms of net premiums written in 2010. Is your auto insurer or workers’ compensation insurer on the list?

1. State Farm Group—$50,808,635
2. Allstate Insurance Group—$24,796,656
3. Liberty Mutual Insurance Cos.—$21,483,996
4. Berkshire Hathaway Insurance—$21,358,316
5. Travelers Group—$20,594,458
6. American International Group—$19,687,720
7. Nationwide Group—$14,489,531
8. Progressive Insurance Group—$14,476,676
9. Farmers Insurance Group—$14,129,512
10. USAA Group—$10,679,414
11. Hartford Insurance Group—$9,688,760
12. Chubb Group of Insurance Cos.—$8,927,736
13. CNA Insurance Cos.—$6,188,618
14. American Family Insurance Group—$5,324,290
15. Allianz of America—$4,666,301
16. Auto-Owners Insurance Group—$4,485,442
17. Munich-America Holding Corp.—$4,413,834
18. Zurich Financial Services NA Group—$4,400,123
19. Erie Insurance Group—$4,019,273
20. Ace INA Group—$3,705,475
21. Transatlantic Holdings Inc. Group—$3,418,020
22. W.R. Berkley Group—$3,392,330
23. The Hanover Insurance Group Property & Casualty Cos.—$3,053,508
24. MetLife Auto & Home Group—$2,983,236
25. Cincinnati Insurance Cos.—$2,965,462

Keep in mind that bigger doesn’t always mean better. You’ll recognize some of the “biggest” insurers also appear on the American Association for Justice’s list of Top Ten Worst Insurance Companies for consumers. Is your insurer on THAT list?

Insurance companies are businesses. Their most basic goal is to pay out less in claims than they make in premiums. Every claim paid out, whether it is a workers’ compensation claim, a no-fault claim, or an auto liability claim, cuts into their profits.

If you’ve sustained injuries as a result of an auto accident, or if you have a work-related injury, you are a liability in the eyes of the insurance company. Their end-of-the-day goal is to pay you as little as possible. 

Whether you’ve got a Minnesota workers’ compensation injury, or injuries as a result of a Minnesota car accident, an experienced attorney can help make sure you get the compensation you are entitled to. For a free, no-obligation consultation with Jen Yackley or Ron Meuser, workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyers at Meuser & Associate, call us at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Study Shows Meditation Helps Reduce Pain

I ran across an interesting article in Medical News Today reporting on a recent study out of Wake Forest studying the effects of meditation on reducing pain.

Healthy individuals were subjected pain stimulation while their brain activity was monitored on an MRI.

After these individuals were trained in meditation techniques, MRI imaging showed a reduction in the areas of the brain that were activated in response to pain without using meditation techniques.

In addition to the differences evident in the MRI scans, Dr. Fadel Zeidan noted that meditation also produced a significant reduction in pain intensity and in pain unpleasantness. Specifically, meditation resulted in about a 40 percent reduction in pain intensity and a 57 percent reduction in pain unpleasantness.

The type of meditation used during this study was Shamatha, which focuses on learning how to observe what’s going on in one’s mind and body without judging, and while maintaining focus on one’s breathing or a chanted mantra.

Interesting stuff. Obviously, not all pain can be relieved or cured by meditating, but this study seems to show that meditation may be an option for people who have run out of other medical treatment options to control their pain. Certainly, if an pain can be reduced, it can improve his or her functioning and quality of life.

I haven’t run across a Minnesota case yet in my practice where an individual has specifically sought payment from a workers’ compensation insurer for a course of training in meditation techniques. However, many chronic pain programs designed to help seriously injured individuals learn cope with pain do utilize meditation as a pain control technique.

Under Minnesota workers’ compensation law, most types of medical treatment are covered. So-called alternative or holistic treatments are also generally covered, although they are often disputed by the workers’ compensation insurance companies. In my opinion, if an injured worker’s doctor has recommended a course of training in meditation techniques to help control pain, and if meditation does indeed help an individual control his or her pain levels, certainly that would be preferable to taking daily doses of narcotic medication, both for the injured worker, and for the insurance company who foots the bill.

There are a wide variety of medical benefits available to injured workers under Minnesota workers’ compensation, in addition to other benefits. To learn more about your Minnesota workers’ compensation rights, contact us at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with Jen Yackley or Ron Meuser.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New York City Fire Department and Marvel Unveil Fire Safety Comic Book

Fire commissioner Salvatore Cassano, Chief of Operations Robert Sweeny, Marvel Comics Editor Bill Rosemann, Hot Dog the FDNY Fire Safety Mascot, Captain America, and Spider-Man appeared at Midtown Comics in Manhattan on April 5, 2011 to announce the release of a new Marvel comic book featuring FDNY firefighters and Marvel superheroes including Captain America and Spider-Man fighting fires and villains, and sharing valuable lessons about fire safety.


Mr. Rosemann noted that “[s]ince the real heroes of New York are the firefighters, we knew we had to make this the best comic book ever.” According to Mr. Rosemann, “[t]his book is not only fun and entertaining, but you learn tips to keep you and your family safe if there’s a fire in your home."


The comic books are free and available at FDNY Fire Safety Education events and the FDNY Fire Zone in Rockefeller Center, while supplies last. You can also view the entire comic online at Marvel.

Visit us at MeuserLaw.com to learn about Minnesota workers’ compensation!

Monday, April 11, 2011

36 Minnesota State Troopers Hit On Minnesota’s Highways Since November

Minnesota State Trooper Brian Bammert was rear-ended by a van while on a traffic stop on Saturday, April 2, 2011 on Interstate 94 in Minneapolis. Trooper Bammert was transported to the hospital, treated and released. Trooper Bammert was expected to return to patrol duty on Wednesday, April 6th.

According to WCCO, this was the second time Trooper Bammert has been hit while performing a traffic stop within six weeks.



Watch out for stopped emergency vehicles!

Since November 1, 2010, 36 State Troopers have been struck on Minnesota Highways. Last year, between November 2009 and April 2010, there were 14 Troopers struck on Minnesota roads.

Minnesota State Troopers and other emergency responders who sustain injuries as a result of a car accident while in the line of duty may be eligible for a variety of benefits, including workers’ compensation benefits, personal injury claims, or MSRS/PERA duty disability benefits.

Meuser & Associate represents dozens of police officers throughout the state of Minnesota, including several State Troopers, and we’re very knowledgeable about the special issues that arise in these cases.

For a free, no obligation consultation regarding your rights after a duty-related motor vehicle accident, call Ron or Jen at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Serice Construction Employee Injured in Forklift Accident in Eden Prairie on April 8, 2011

According to Kare11, police and first responders were called to 6855 Shady Oak Road in Eden Prairie, Minnesota just after 8:30 a.m. on Friday morning, April 8, 2011.

The 911 call reported that a Serice Construction employee was pinned between a forklift and a garage door frame. When first responders arrived, he had been freed, but he was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.

Eden Prairie Police and OSHA are investigating the incident.

Each year, about 100 workers are killed in the United States, and an additional 20,000 are seriously injured in forklift accidents at work.

Forklift accidents can be caused by:
  • Tipping over. Carrying loads that are too heavy can cause a forklift to overturn. Forklift overturns are the most common cause of fatalities involving forklifts. Forklifts that tip over can crush nearby workers, or crush the worker operating the forklift.
  • Falling objects. Forklift drivers can be seriously injured or killed by objects falling and hitting the driver while operating a forklift. If the forklift is operated in a confined area, the risk of hitting something with the forklift or with the load, which then falls onto the driver is magnified. Falling loads can also seriously injure or kill workers who are near the forklift.
  • Driver Ejection. Falling from a forklift is one of the most common causes of forklift fatalities for workers.
  • Being struck by a forklift. Another common cause of forklift-related deaths is when a nearby worker is struck by a forklift. This can happen when a worker fails to notice an oncoming forklift, or if the forklift does not have signal alarms.
  • Lifting workers. Forklifts are not designed to be used to elevate workers. Should the operator lose control, a worker elevated on a forklift can fall and be seriously injured or killed.
  • Poor Driving Conditions. Poor visibility, narrow pathways, obstructed intersections, obstacles, and unsafe floor or ground conditions can all cause forklift accidents.
If you’ve been involved in a forklift accident at work in Minnesota, you may be entitled to Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits, including medical expense benefits, wage loss benefits, rehabilitation benefits, and permanent partial disability benefits. If you are hurt at work, make sure you receive all the benefits you are entitled to. For a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your workers’ compensation case, contact Meuser & Associates at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Two Injured in 3-Vehicle Collision in St. Cloud on April 7, 2011

According to the St. Cloud Times, two people were taken to the hospital after a three-vehicle collision on Thursday, April 7, 2011 in St. Cloud.

The three vehicles were in traffic at 14th Avenue and Highway 23, when the third car rear-ended the second car, which pushed the second car into the first car. The driver that initiated the chain reaction crash was cited for inattentive driving.

Be careful out there on Minnesota’s roads!

To avoid being involved in a motor vehicle collision, check out these safe-driving tips:

Know your blind spots. All vehicles have blind spots. Most cars have blind spots at the sides near the rear of the vehicle, which means you can’t see anything in these areas by looking in your mirrors. Check your mirrors while you’re driving, and turn your head and check your blind spots before making a lane change.

Avoid distractions. If you stop paying attention to the road for even a second or two, it can be long enough for an accident to happen. Some of the most common driving distractions include eating, drinking, applying make-up, taking or texting on a cell phone, reading a map, adjusting the radio or MP3 player, dealing with kids in the backseat, or even just taking to passengers. At 60 miles per hour, you travel 90 feet per second, which means if you look down for one second to change songs on your IPod, it can be long enough to rear-end a stopped vehicle in front of you.

Avoid backing up. Take special care to make sure you don’t back up without visually clearing the area behind your vehicle first. Each year, many children are run over in their own driveways because drivers didn’t look behind their vehicles first. Once you’ve checked the area behind your vehicle, turn and look to the rear while you back up. Parking lot back-up accidents are extremely common. Always look behind you while you’re backing up to avoid hitting another vehicle, or a pedestrian walking through the lot.

Beware of intersections. Intersections are one of the most dangerous areas for drivers. Over 80% of all city collisions involving injury or death occur within controlled intersections, or intersections where there is a stop light. The majority of collisions at controlled intersections happen within 4 seconds of a light change. Don’t assume that because you have a green light that someone else on the road won’t mess up and hit you. Keep an eye out for the other guy.

Be a freeway pro. Freeways, expressways, and interstates require special driving skills. Due to the high speeds and density of traffic on freeways, mistakes are much more likely to cause an accident. For example, most on-ramps allow enough space for you to get up to freeway speeds before you enter the freeway. Get up to speed before you enter the freeway and watch freeway traffic to allow yourself to enter safely. Before you change lanes, turn your head and look over your shoulder to check for vehicles in your blind spots. Drive at a safe speed. Excessive speeds or driving too slowly increases dangers for everyone on the freeway.

For more great safety tips, click here.

If you’ve sustained a personal injury in a car accident as a result of someone else’s negligence or carelessness, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, wage loss, and pain and suffering. For a free, no-obligation consultation about your personal injury case, contact Ron Meuser or Jen Yackley at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dangers of Trench Collapse in Minnesota

Trench collapse is probably one of dreaded types of construction accidents. Trench construction is highly regulated by OSHA and other state and federal entities to avoid serious injury or death to people working in or around trenches. Despite these regulations, trench collapses still happen with a fair amount of regularity.

Trench collapses and cave-ins can be caused by failure to follow safety guidelines, negligence or carelessness, flooding, improper shoring, equipment defects, machinery resting too close to the edge, inadequate safety equipment, or poor digging. Regardless of the cause, injuries sustained by workers involved in a trench collapse are almost always severe.

Trenches are associated with any number of dangerous. For example, workers can sustain serious injury if they accidentally fall into a trench. They can be injured if an object falls into the trench, striking them. Workers in trenches can be electrocuted or burned or killed in an explosion if a utility line is ruptured during excavation. Excavators and the workers operating them can tip into an open trench of the sides of the trench are not properly supported, or if the sides give way. Workers in trenches also face the risk of being overcome by the sudden release of gasses, either from a ruptured gas pipe, or from naturally occurring gases. The risk of a worker drowning in a trench occurs when a trench is too deep for the worker to get out of easily, or there is no escape access, and the trench fills with water from a ruptured pipe. The sudden release of water into a trench can also cause the ground materials forming the sides of the trench to suddenly collapse, trapping workers in deadly mud.

The most deadly type of trench accident is trench collapse, where the ground materials of a trench collapse, burying a worker. The sheer weight of soil or other ground material can crush or asphyxiate a worker in a very short period of time. Rescuing a partially buried worker is extremely difficult, and the worker may have sustained fatal injuries by the time he or she is rescued. Broken bones, lung collapse, back and neck injuries, and amputation injuries are all common when a construction worker is trapped in a collapsed trench.

Some common types of trench collapse or cave-in injuries include:
Minnesota construction workers who are injured in trench cave-ins or other trench accidents are generally entitled to Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits, including medical expense benefits, wage loss benefits, permanent partial disability benefits, and rehabilitation benefits.

If the trench accident was caused by the negligence or carelessness of an entity other than the construction’s employer or a co-worker, in addition to a workers’ compensation claim, the injured worker may also have what’s known as a third-party liability claim, which includes claims for medical expenses, wage loss benefits, and pain and suffering.

If your loved one died as a result of a trench collapse accident in Minnesota, you may be eligible for Minnesota workers' compensation death and dependency benefits, and you may have a wrongful death claim if the trench cave-in was caused by the negligence of a third party.

If you’ve sustained injuries as a result of a trench accident in Minnesota, make sure you get all the benefits you’re entitled to. Contact Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email for a free, no-obligation case evaluation consultation with one of our Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyers.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Weed, Work Comp, and Bears, Oh My!

Workers’ compensation is a form of no-fault insurance that provides various benefits to injured workers, regardless of whether the employer is at fault for the injuries. It also means that even if the employee is “at fault” for his or her own injuries, by virtue of the employee’s negligence, carelessness or even stupidity, those injuries are usually still covered by workers’ compensation in Minnesota.

One exception in Minnesota is if an injured worker is intoxicated at the time of the injury, and the intoxication is found to be the proximate cause of the injury, the employer is not liable for payment of workers’ compensation benefits.

A positive drug or alcohol test or admitted drug or alcohol use prior to an on-the-job injury in Minnesota will usually result in a denial of a workers’ compensation claim by the workers’ compensation insurance company. Just because the workers’ compensation insurance company denies the claim, however, doesn’t mean that they won’t ultimately be found liable for benefits.

In Minnesota, in order to succeed on an intoxication defense, it is the burden of the employer to show that the intoxication was the proximate cause of the injury. What this means is that the employer must show that the drug or alcohol intoxication directly caused the injuries. In many, if not most cases, the employee’s injury would have occurred regardless of whether or not the employee was intoxicated at the time of the injury. Moreover, a positive drug or alcohol test doesn’t automatically prove that an employee is intoxicated. An employer will have to prove that the employee was actually intoxicated at the time of the injury.

A recent and controversial case out of Montana illustrates this point. Brock Hopkins was mauled by a grizzly bear at Great Bear Adventures in Montana when he entered a bear cage to feed the grizzly bears. He was awarded benefits, but his case involved a number of disputed issues. Most interestingly, Brock Hopkins admitted that he smoked some weed that morning before he entered the bear cage. His employer of course, argued that he should not be awarded benefits because he was stoned, and his intoxication was the proximate, or direct cause of his injuries. The Montana Supreme Court upheld the award of benefits by the Workers’ Compensation Court.

The Montana Supreme Court noted that "Hopkins' use of marijuana to kick off a day of working around grizzly bears was ill-advised to say the least and mind-bogglingly stupid to say the most," but further noted that grizzlies are "equal opportunity maulers," without regard to marijuana consumption. Without evidence of Hopkins' level of impairment, the Montana Supreme Court upheld the Workers’ Compensation Judge’s conclusion that marijuana was not the major contributing cause of Hopkins' injuries.

I would venture to say that had this case occurred in Minnesota, the result would probably have been the same.

To read more about this case, check out this Workers’ Comp Insider article, or read the Montana Supreme Court decision.

For a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your Minnesota workers’ compensation rights, contact Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Whiplash Injuries and Minnesota Car Accidents

Whiplash injuries are one of the most common types of injuries we see in our Minnesota personal injury practice. Whiplash is most commonly caused by a rear-end car accident. Whiplash is also known as a hyperextension/hyperflexion injury.

Whiplash is a neck injury that often occurs as the result of a rear-end auto collision, when your head suddenly moves backward, then forward. The extreme forces involved in an auto collision can push your neck muscles and ligaments beyond their normal range of motion. Whiplash can be relatively minor or it can be more severe.

Most whiplash symptoms develop within 24 hours after the injury, and often include:
  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
Some people also experience:
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Irritability
You should seek medical care promptly if:
  • The pain spreads to your shoulders or arms
  • Moving your head becomes painful
  • You experience numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arms

Many people recover from mild whiplash injuries within a few weeks, but up to half of people who suffer a whiplash injury continue to have pain for months after the injury.

When you see your doctor, he or she will probably ask how the injury occurred, and he or she may test your range of motion, or how far you can move your neck in various directions. He or she may also check to see if certain areas of your neck are particularly tender to touch. To rule out neurological deficits, your doctor may also check for diminished muscle strength, reflex abnormalities, or numbness. To rule out more serious injuries, your doctor may also order x-rays, a CT-scan, or an MRI.

Whiplash is commonly treated with:
  • Medications, such as over-the-counter pain killers, prescription pain-relievers, injections, or muscle relaxers
  • Physical therapy, including ice, heat, ultrasound, strengthening, and exercises
  • Or, chiropractic care, massage, acupuncture, and electrical muscle stimulation.
For more information , visit the Mayo Clinic’s page about whiplash injuries.

Whiplash can be extremely painful, it can limit your ability work, and it can interfere with your ability to do things you enjoy doing. Unfortunately, insurance companies consider whiplash injuries to be very minor injuries. Your No-Fault insurance company will almost invariably seek to discontinue your entitlement to medical expense benefits if you’ve sustained a whiplash injury, and the at-fault party’s insurance company will almost always view these types of injuries as minimal.

If you’ve sustained injuries in a car accident as the result of someone else’s fault, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, your wage loss, and your pain and suffering. For a free, no-obligation with one of our Minnesota personal injury attorneys, call Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

OSHA’s 2010 List of Top Ten Most Common Violations

According to Risk & Insurance Online, OSHA has released its Top 10 list of most frequently cited violations. These violations are cited by OSHA because of the significant dangers they pose to workers.
  1. Scaffolding - general requirements. Scaffolding regulations aim to protect construction workers from falls and falling objects while working on or near scaffolding at heights of 10 feet or more.
  2. Fall protection - general requirements. Fall protection regulations are designed to protect employees on a walking/working surface with an unprotected side or edge above 6 feet.
  3. Hazard communication – Thee guidelines address chemical hazards and the communication of them to workers.
  4. Respiratory protection – Respiratory regulations direct employers in establishing/maintaining a respiratory protection program.
  5. Ladders - general requirements for all ladders. These requirements protect workers from fall dangers.
  6. Lockout/tagout – These regulations addresses the control of hazardous energy during servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment.
  7. Electrical - wiring methods. These guidelines deal with the grounding of electrical equipment, wiring, and insulation.
  8. Powered industrial trucks –These rules cover the design, maintenance, and operation of powered industrial trucks.
  9. Electrical - general requirements. These requirements deal with general safety requirements for designing electrical systems.
  10. Machine guarding - general requirements. These rules cover guarding of machinery to protect operators and other employees from hazards.
If you’ve sustained a work-related injury either as a result of OSHA violations, or otherwise, you may be entitled to Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits, including wage loss benefits, medical expense benefits, permanent partial disability benefits and/or rehabilitation benefits.

For a free, no-obligation consultation to learn about your Minnesota workers’ compensation rights, call us at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email to speak with one of our workers’ compensation lawyers.

Visit us at MeuserLaw.com!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Jake LaFerriere: Why We Do What We Do

Why do we practice Minnesota workers’ compensation law? Because of people like Jake LaFerriere. It’s a privilege and an honor to work with and help people like him.

Jake LaFerriere, a Minneapolis Firefighter, responded to a residential structure fire on July 3, 2010. While Jake and his partner were conducting overhaul of the third story of the structure, looking for the source of the fire, a backdraft explosion suddenly blasted Jake across the room. To escape the fire and smoke, Jake jumped out of a third-story window, landing on the roof of the first floor porch. He sustained a broken ankle, torn ligaments in his knee, and third and fourth degree burns on his hands.

After months of recovery and physical therapy, Jake is back at work in a light duty capacity and he looks forward to returning to firefighting.

Watch Jake’s recent interview on WCCO Channel 4 and read his story here.


You can also read an interview Jake did with Fox9 here.


Jake was also interviewed by Weasel, Josh, & Nick on the 93X Half-Assed Morning Show, which you can download and listen to by clicking here.


Jake is truly an inspirational guy, and we’re not alone in thinking so. Jake was nominated by his mom as one of “America’s Most Wanted All-Stars,” a program run by the makers of “America’s Most Wanted,” the crime series, to honor America’s most inspirational first responders, and he was selected as a finalist!

America’s Most Wanted All-Stars will select a total of eight finalists, and voters will select the winner. In addition to the huge honor of being selected as “America’s Most Wanted All-Star,” the winner will receive $10,000.00 and a trip to the NASCAR SPRINT Cup Series All-Star Challenge.

Jake's story was featured on America's Most Wanted on Fox on April 1, 2011. Click the video to below to watch the clip from America's Most Wanted.


Beginning April 21, go vote for Jake for “America’s Most Wanted All-Star!” You can vote once per day, per email address, through May 8th! Click here to view Jake's profile and to vote for him!

Stay tuned for more news about Jake and for updates on his participation in America's Most Wanted All-Stars!

To learn more about Minnesota workers' compensation, visit us at MeuserLaw.com!

Medical Bills Leading Cause of Bankruptcy: Don’t Let Work Comp. or Personal Injury Bills Send You Into Financial Ruin

I ran across an interesting article in the Hutchinson Leader about the rates of bankruptcy filings related to medical bills. Dr. David Himmelstein, a professor of public health at City University in New York and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School noted that medical-related bankruptcies went up substantially between 2002 and 2007, even before the economic recession began.

Interestingly, the vast majority of people filing for bankruptcy due to medical bills actually had some form of insurance. Dr. Himmelstein noted that “[m]ost people who are driven into bankruptcy by illness and medical bills actually have coverage, but it’s such inadequate coverage that it doesn’t keep them from financial ruin…they’re facing huge premiums and copayments and deductibles – and things that aren’t covered by their insurance.”

Dr. Himmelstein cautions against targeting public-sector health benefits and benefits through health and human services for budget cuts. Leaving people with worse coverage will lead to more people incurring greater medical expenses.

If you’ve sustained a personal injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident due to someone else’s fault, or if you’ve sustained a work-related injury and the insurance company is denying your claim, outstanding medical bills can pile up quickly. We can help get these bills paid. Don’t let an injury force you into financial ruin.

We understand how frustrating and stressful it can be when you're injured and your medical bills are piling up. If you're off work, and you've lost your insurance, paying for your bills out of pocket probably isn't an option. We can help get those bills paid.

If you’ve sustained a Minnesota work injury or personal injury, and need help with your medical expenses, contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. Call us at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email to speak with one of our lawyers.

Visit us at MeuserLaw.com!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Avoid Minnesota Bike Accidents This Spring

The snow is finally going away, and that means people are going to be hitting Minnesota roads on bicycles. Unfortunately bicycle versus car accidents happen all too frequently. No matter who is at fault, when a bike rider is hit by a car, usually the cyclist comes out on the losing end.

To avoid bicycle accidents, follow these common sense tips:
  • Use your head – wear a helmet! Helmets can prevent concussions, traumatic brain injuries, and even death.
  • Before you hit the roads, make sure your bicycle is in good working order. Check the brakes, make sure the handlebars won’t slip, check your reflectors, make sure your cranks are tightened, and check that the quick release hub bolt is closed.
  • Obey the rules of the road! Bikes are required to follow the same traffic laws as motor vehicles. That means you must stop for stop signs and stop lights, even in residential areas.
  • Ride your bike like a motorist. Follow the flow of traffic on the right-hand side of the road. Use signals to alert drivers as to your intentions. Obey traffic signals.
  • Be visible. Make sure you have reflectors on your bicycle, and wear bright clothing so motorists can see you more easily.
  • Pay attention. Just like motorists, stay off the cell phone! Don’t use headphones, and keep both hands on the handlebars.
  • Watch out for motorists. Even if you’re doing what you are supposed to, keep your eye on the other guy. If you’re involved in a car versus bicycle accident, you’re probably going to come out on the losing end, even if you’re not at fault.
Injuries sustained by bicyclists involved in a car versus bike accident are almost always severe. Make sure your medical bills are paid, you are reimbursed for your wage loss, and you are compensated for your pain and suffering. Don’t try to take on the insurance company by yourself. A good Minnesota personal injury lawyer can help make sure you are compensated for your losses.

If you are injured as a result of a bicycle accident due to someone else’s carelessness or negligence, call us at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our Minnesota personal injury lawyers.

Visit us at MeuserLaw.com!
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