Sunday, February 26, 2012

Work-Related Herniated Disc: Non-Surgical Treatment Options

Low back herniated disc injuries are the most common work-related injury we see in our Minnesota workers’ compensation practice. 

While a good portion of our clients do ultimately require some sort of surgery to address their herniated discs, many of our clients experience improvements in their condition, or they are able to manage their symptoms through other, non-surgical medical treatments.

During the initial time period following a lumbar herniated disc injury, many patients will try a variety of “conservative” treatments to alleviate pain from the herniated disc, and to give the disc herniation time to heal. If an injured worker experiences symptom relief with non-surgical options within the first several weeks following the disc herniated injury, continued non-surgical treatment may be appropriate.

Some types of non-surgical disc herniation treatment options include:

Chiropractic treatment and physical therapy. If symptoms persist for several weeks, a trial of chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation and/or physical therapy may be warranted. The goals of chiropractic/osteopathic manipulation and physical therapy are to reduce pain and to help the patient return to his or her normal level of function.

Medications. Medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce inflammation and pain caused by a disc herniation. Oral steroids may also be utilized to try to reduce inflammation promote healing of a herniated disc. Narcotic pain medications may be prescribed to reduce acute pain. Muscle relaxers may be prescribed to reduce muscle spasm, and to encourage healing in the affected area.

Epidural steroid injections. Injections of steroids directly into the area of the disc herniation can help reduce inflammation and promote healing. Patients may experience pain relief that can last from one week up to a year. Up to three injections may be done within a year.

In Minnesota, if you sustain a work-related herniated disc, the workers’ compensation insurance company is required to pay for reasonable and necessary medical expenses, which may include chiropractic treatments and physical therapy, medications, and injections, and a variety of other medical treatments.

Lumbar herniated discs can be extremely painful and can seriously interfere with your ability to work. Herniated discs are the most common work-related injury we see in our workers’ compensation practice. To learn more about your Minnesota workers’ compensation rights, call Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680, or click here to send us an email to schedule a free, no-obligation case consultation. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Work Comp. is Denying My Surgery, What Do I Do?: MN Workers' Compensation

We often get calls from folks who have Minnesota work-related injuries who find themselves in a difficult spot when the workers’ compensation insurance company refuses to authorize a proposed surgery or other recommended treatment. 

 A workers’ compensation insurance company frequently refuses to authorize surgeries and other medical treatment either on the basis that the proposed surgery or treatment is not reasonable or necessary, that the proposed treatment or surgery is outside the Minnesota permanent treatment parameters, or that the underlying injury is not a substantial contributing factor to your need for surgery or other medical treatment. Often times, the workers’ compensation insurer will base its denial on the findings of an Independent Medical Exam. Unless the proposed surgery is done on an emergency basis, the workers’ compensation insurer does have the right to require you to attend an Independent Medical Examination before agreeing to the proposed treatment.

No matter what the reason for the denial, don't have to simply accept it if the workers' compensation insurance company disputes your entitlement to medical care!

The rules and hoop-jumping that can go along with getting pre-approval for surgical treatment in a Minnesota workers’ compensation case can, unfortunately, substantially delay your medical care.

Where medical care is disputed in a Minnesota workers’ compensation case, particularly in disputes over pre-authorization for surgery or other treatment, there are procedures that allow many of these disputes to be heard on an expedited, or “fast-track” basis. In some cases, the injured worker can file a Request for Certification of Dispute, and a Medical Request, and the issue will be heard at the Department of Labor and Industry at an Administrative Conference. Other cases are initiated by filing a Claim Petition, and the issue is heard by a judge at the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Unfortunately, disputes over medical care are very common in Minnesota workers’ compensation cases. In fact, it’s not unusual to have multiple disputes over medical care during the course of an injured worker’s claim. When an insurance company starts disputing medical care on a workers’ compensation case, it’s usually only a matter of time before they start disputing other benefits, if they haven’t already been denied.

For a free, no-obligation case evaluation to learn more about your options when the workers’ compensation insurance company is disputing your medical care, call Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Facebook May Be Used to Deny Your Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Claim

Unfortunately, some workers’ compensation insurance companies will go to great lengths to come up with a reason to deny an otherwise legitimate Minnesota workers’ compensation claim. Other insurance companies thoroughly investigate each and every claim to root out fraud. In both cases, workers’ compensation insurers routinely use internet searches to see if there is relevant information on the internet regarding you or your claim. 

Social media sites, especially Facebook, are getting some workers’ compensation claimants into trouble. Obviously, if a worker claims to have a back injury and that they can’t work, but has posted pictures of themselves skydiving after the alleged injury, that type of fraudulent claim should be denied.

Unfortunately, however, some workers’ compensation insurers are trying to use even seemingly innocent posts and pictures as a basis to deny an injured workers’ claim, or to dispute the extent of that worker’s injury. For example, if you have cherry, happy status updates, or post that you’re “doing well,” some workers’ compensation insurers are arguing that those types of posts are evidence that you’re not hurt as badly as you claim, or that you’re not hurt at all.

Adjusters are also using seemingly innocent pictures for the same purpose. For example, if an injured worker has a knee injury that prevents them from working, a photo of that worker sitting around a campfire having a beer with friends might be used to argue that you’re not hurt as badly as you claim.

The discoverability of Facebook content, or whether or not you’re required to turn over your Facebook content to the insurance company, is a relatively new area of the law. Generally speaking, courts in a number of jurisdictions have held that your Facebook content is discoverable in the context of a workers’ compensation case, meaning that you may be legally required to turn over the content of your Facebook account to the workers’ compensation insurer.

Within the last two years or so, I’ve now run into a number of Minnesota workers’ comp. cases where the insurer has demanded disclosure of all social networking sites my client belongs to. Thus far, I have yet to encounter a case where the insurer is demanding direct access to those social networking accounts, but I’m sure it’s simply a matter of time before we’re seeing that type of request on a regular basis.

Is this fair? Definitely not. I have a personal Facebook account, and I definitely don’t want everyone to see everything. The best way to protect yourself is to regularly check that you have your privacy settings set to the highest level, use common sense about what you post, and regularly monitor what other people are posting about you. You should assume that anything shared on a social media site is not private, and could be used against you. If you have something you’d like to keep private, keep it off the internet. 

Visit us at to learn more about your Minnesota workers’ compensation rights, call us at 877-746-5680, or click here to send us an email.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Back Pain Mistakes: MN Workers' Compensation

Back injuries are the most common type of work-related injury we see in our Minnesota workers’ compensation law practice. 

Dealing with severe or chronic back pain due to a work injury can be incredibly difficult. According to, avoiding some common mistakes can help keep you from making your back pain worse.
  1. Ignoring your pain for too long. Often, an acute attack of low back pain will get better within a few weeks, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. For chronic or severe back pain, a spine specialist may be able to give you a diagnosis and treatment plan to help you manage or reduce your pain.
  2. Relying on your general practitioner for too long. If your back pain is severe and/or lasts for more than a few weeks, you may need to see someone with more specialized training in back pain, such as a chiropractor or spine specialist. A spine specialist may be able to give you a better diagnosis and treatment plan than a general practitioner. 
  3. Jumping to surgery too quickly. Surgery is not necessarily a “quick fix.” In most cases, it is typically recommended that back pain patients try non-surgical, or conservative treatment, such as chiropractic care or physical therapy, for several weeks or months before seeing a spine surgeon. While surgery can correct a structural problem in the spine, such as a disc pressing a nerve, a sustained exercise and rehabilitation program can often promote long-term recovery.
  4. Postponing back surgery for too long. For some types of back conditions, such as those involving nerve root compression, patients often tend to do better if they have surgery sooner, rather than later. 
  5. Focusing on MRI results. While an MRI scan can show areas of your spine that might be responsible for causing your pain, you need a full clinical diagnosis to determine an appropriate treatment plan. Often patients with severe back pain have a normal MRI scan, and individuals with significant structural abnormalities on an MRI have no back pain. 
  6. Being inactive. Often people with back pain try to avoid aggravating their back pain or triggering pain flare-ups by limiting their physical activity. Over time, however, lack of activity often leads to more pain. Keeping your back flexible and strong improves your core support, hastens the healing process, and reduces the chances of future injury or aggravations. 
In addition to the pain you have to deal with as a result of a work-related back injury, you may suddenly be looking at significant medical expense, an extended time off work, or even a permanent disability.

In Minnesota, if you sustain an on-the-job back injury, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, including medical expense benefits, wage loss benefits, vocational rehabilitation benefits, and/or permanent partial disability benefits. For a free, no-obligation case consultation, call Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email to speak with one of our Minnesota workers’ compensation attorneys.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Construction Laborers and Work Injuries

Performing heavy labor at a construction site can lead to work injuries. Construction laborers commonly sustain injuries to their back, fingers and hands, and knees, as the result of repetitive, strenuous job activities.

Some types of job activities, that when performed repetitively for prolonged periods of time, can lead to injuries, include:
  • Exerting significant force to perform tasks or use tools 
  • Remaining in a static position for extended periods of time 
  • Pressure against a body part from a hard surface or edge 
  • Using awkward back, hand, wrist, elbow, or shoulder positions 
  • Working in positions such as bending, stooping, kneeling, twisting, or overhead reaching, repetitively, or for prolonged periods 
  • Sitting on, standing on, or holding vibrating equipment or tools 
  • Working in very hot or very cold temperatures 
Symptoms of a construction injury can include:
  • Pain 
  • Stiffness 
  • Aching 
  • Fatigue 
  • Temperature changes in the hands or feet 
  • Swelling 
  • Numbness 
  • Tingling 
  • Changes in skin color 
  • Weakness 
  • Loss of sensation 
If you sustain an injury on the job as a construction laborer, it’s important to get medical attention. It is also important that you report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. If you sustain an on-the-job construction labor injury in Minnesota, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, including medical expense benefits, wage loss benefits, permanent partial disability benefits, and/or rehabilitation benefits.

Construction workers often run into unique issues on their workers' compensation cases, including insurance coverage issues, and third party liability issues. An experienced Minnesota workers' compensation lawyer can help you navigate the system. To learn more about your Minnesota workers’ compensation rights, contact Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email for a FREE, NO-OBLIGATION case evaluation.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Young Workers Hurt More Frequently On the Job

If you sustain a serious work-related injury when you're young, it can affect you for the rest of your life. Young workers injured on the job should take steps to protect their future workers' compensation rights.

Recent studies show that younger people, ages 15-24, are twice as likely to suffer an on-the-job injury that requires medical care than their older counterparts. Workers between the ages of 18 and 19 have the highest non-fatal injury rate of all workers.

This increased risk of injury among young workers may be due to lack of experience, limited training, and insufficient supervision. Young workers are also less likely to speak up about job safety, to ask for help, to recognize safety hazards, or to speak up if they’re unsure about how to operate equipment or machinery. That puts them at much greater risk for suffering on-the-job injuries.

Young workers may also be hesitant to report work-related injuries for fear of losing their job, or for fear of getting in trouble. Young workers are also much less likely to be aware of what their rights are under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act.

How a young worker handles his or her workers’ compensation claim today can have serious consequences for his or her health, career, and well-being in the future. 

All too often I speak with people who sustained significant work-related injuries years ago when they were in their late teens or early twenties. Some of those people didn’t take steps to protect their workers’ compensation rights, and as a result, they are now facing significant difficulties because of that work-related injury they had when they were younger.

A Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer can help young workers who are injured on the job take steps today to help protect their workers’ compensation rights in the future. Call Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Portable Ladder Safety: Minnesota Workers’ Compensation

Falls from ladders are a leading cause of occupational injury and death. If you sustain injuries as a result of a fall from a ladder at work, in Minnesota, you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, including medical benefits, wage loss benefits, permanent partial disability benefits, and rehabilitation benefits.

About 100 people die as a result of falling from a ladder each year, and ladder falls account for approximately 100 thousand injuries every year. Ladder falls most commonly involve injuries to the elbow and forearm, knee and lower leg, and the head. Fractures as a result of ladder falls most commonly involved fractures to the forearm, lower leg and ankle, and ribs, sternum and thoracic spine.

There are things you can do to avoid falls from ladders, including:
  • Avoiding electrical hazards by looking for overhead lines before placing a ladder and avoiding metal ladders and equipment. Inspecting the ladder before use. 
  • Don’t use damaged ladders. 
  • Don’t use the top step or rung of a ladder unless it was designed for that purpose. 
  • Don’t use self-supporting ladders as a single ladder or in a closed position, i.e., don’t lean a closed step ladder up against the side of a house. 
  • Use a ladder on stable and level surfaces, or secure it at the top or bottom to avoid movement.
  • Don’t place a ladder on top of boxes, barrels, or other unstable objects to obtain additional height. 
  • Don’t move or shift a ladder while a person or equipment is on the ladder. 
  • Be sure that all locks on an extension ladder are properly engaged. 
For more safety tips, check out OSHA’s Portable Ladder Safety Quick Card. If you’ve sustained injuries as a result of a ladder fall at work, contact Meuser & Associate for a FREE, NO-OBLIGATION case evaluation to learn about your Minnesota workers’ compensation rights.

Call us at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Medical Mileage Reimbursement for MN Workers’ Compensation Injuries

One of the workers’ compensation benefits provided to injured workers in Minnesota is reimbursement for medical mileage. 

This is also one of the most frequently overlooked benefits. If you don’t submit your medical mileage to the insurer for reimbursement, they aren’t going to pay it.

The current medical mileage reimbursement rate for travel for medical care or treatment for a work-related injury, on or after July 1, 2011 is 55 ½ cents per mile.  If you’re traveling back and forth to multiple doctor appointments, chiropractor visits, or physical therapy, your claim for medical mileage reimbursement, your mileage reimbursement claim can really add up.

The most challenging aspect to making a claim for medical mileage reimbursement is remembering to keep track of your round trip mileage to and from your appointments, and remembering to periodically submit your mileage to the workers’ compensation insurer for reimbursement.

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

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