Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Speaking With A Minn. Workers' Compensation Lawyer

Often times, when I first speak with a new potential client or someone who has questions about Minnesota workers’ compensation, it's the first time they've ever spoken with a lawyer, and they're nervous about talking to an attorney.

When you call me or schedule a time to meet with me or another workers’ compensation lawyer, we’re regular people, just like you. We have families, pets, hobbies…just like you. Please don’t be feel nervous about talking to us. I don’t bite…I promise! In fact, if you come in on a Friday, you might just catch me in jeans and a sweatshirt.

As lawyers, one of the most important parts of our job is listening. When we first meet with you, a good portion of our meeting is spent listening to you describe your work, your injuries, and what has transpired since that time in terms of your medical care, your work, and how the insurance company has been handling your case. We will ask you specific questions to find out specific information to analyze your case. Based on that, we explain your workers’ compensation rights, discuss issues, strengths, and weaknesses of your case, and make recommendations as to how to proceed to best protect your rights. We’ll also answer any questions you have about your rights, the workers’ compensation process, and our recommendations.

Before you meet with us, don’t spend time over-analyzing your case. Analyzing your case is our job as your lawyer. Every day, our job is to apply the law to the facts of a case. We will explain how your case fits within the law, and ways in which the law can impact your situation.

Be honest with us. Our conversations are confidential. Anything you tell us is held in confidence, and our advice is confidential. When we’re evaluating our case, tell us anything you think is important. If there are things you think may be harmful to your case, it’s important that you let us know about those things to give you an honest assessment of your case. Often, we speak with potential clients who are worried about telling us about prior conditions or injuries. Very, very often, those things that you’re worried about won’t actually hurt your case. The more honest you are with me, the better I can analyze your case, and the more accurate advice I can give you. 

Our job is to give you an honest assessment of your case, not to give you a sales pitch. If you’ve got a solid case, I’ll tell you. If you have a weak case, I’ll tell you. If you don’t have a case, I’ll tell you. All cases have strengths, and all cases have weaknesses. My job is to evaluate and analyze those things and give you an honest assessment.

We provide free, no-obligation Minnesota workers’ compensation case consultations. Part of my job is to help you understand your rights based on the facts of your case. Speaking with a Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer doesn’t have to be stressful. In fact, most of the time, after meeting with me for the first time, injured workers feel less stressed about their circumstances. Knowledge is a powerful thing, and knowing your workers’ compensation rights can help you feel more in control of your situation. Call Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email for a free, no-obligation workers’ compensation consultation.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Preventing Violence in the Workplace: Minnesota Work Comp.

Preventing violence in the workplace involves recognizing situations that could potentially lead to violence, and taking steps to prevent violent incidents. A safe work environment is everyone’s responsibility. Employees should be trained on how to recognize an unsafe situation relating to co-workers, employers need to stress that workplace violence is not “part of the job,” and no one has to “put up with it,” and employees should alert management to co-workers who are verbally or physically threatening other workers.

Prior to a violent act, there are almost always red flags. After a violent workplace incident, people almost invariably say “there were warning signs,” or “we should have known.” Employees and employers should be aware of these red flags, and report them before an act of violence takes place: 
  • Prior history of violent behavior. 
  • Making threats, either verbal or physical. 
  • Unexplained mood changes. 
  • Screaming, yelling, or making a fist. 
  • Expressing homicidal or suicidal thoughts. 
  • Holding a grudge against a supervisor/co-workers. 
  • Blaming all things that go wrong on a co-worker, supervisors, or management. 
  • Expressing a feeling of loss of control within his or her life. 
  • A history of domestic abuse. 
  • Obsession with weapons or carrying a weapon in the workplace. 
  • Isolation from co-workers. 
  • Paranoid behavior or verbalizations reflecting paranoid thoughts. 
  • Unwanted romantic interest in a co-worker. 
  • Abuse of alcohol or illicit drugs. 
  • Use of alcohol or illicit drugs at work. 
  • Extreme financial or extreme family problems. 
Employees who observe any of these red flags should be encouraged to report them to their immediate supervisor. Employers need to have a process in place to document employee concerns, and to take measures, if appropriate, to protect employee safety.

Workplace violence is not always the result of violent actions of another co-worker. People who work with the general public, such as convenience store cashiers, may be subject to violence from outsiders. Terroristic acts by disgruntled former employees or disgruntled customers can also be the cause of workplace violence. Unfortunately, domestic violence situations can spill over into the workplace, as well.

Employers need to have to have a policy in place addressing how to deal with violent situations from customers or non-workers. Employers should also be cooperative in enforcing no contact orders, and have procedures in place to prevent non-employees from gaining access to the workplace.

Unfortunately, despite good policies and procedures, workplace violence does happen, and will continue to happen. If a worker suffers injuries as the result of workplace violence, in many cases, that worker is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

In Minnesota, work injuries that are the result of workplace violence are separated into three separate categories. Injuries which fall into two of the three categories are covered under workers’ compensation, but injuries which fall into the third category are not covered by workers’ compensation. This is known as the Hanson analysis, named after the case of Hanson v. Robitshek Schneider Co., 297 N.W. 19 (1941).
  1. First, injuries that are the result of workplace violence where the provocation or motivation behind the assault arises solely out of the activity of the victim as an employee, are covered under Minnesota workers’ compensation. 
  2. Second, injuries that are the result of workplace violence where the assailant was motivated by personal animosity towards the victim arising from circumstances completely unconnected with the employment. These injuries are not covered under Minnesota workers’ compensation. 
  3. Third, injuries that are the result of workplace violence directed at the victim due to a combination of personal non-work related reasons, and work-related reasons are covered under Minnesota workers’ compensation. Cases where the assailant’s motivation is unknown are usually covered under workers’ compensation. 
Most injuries caused by workplace violence fall into the third category – the assailant was motivated by a combination of workplace factors and non-workplace factors, and they are covered by Minnesota workers’ compensation. That being said, many workers’ compensation insurers will deny injury claims involving assaults or violence, arguing that the incident was non-work related. Just because the workers’ compensation insurance company says your case is not covered, does not mean that they are right!

We’ve represented a wide variety of Minnesota workers who suffered injuries as a result of workplace violence, including a woman who was sexually assaulted by a supervisor, a security guard who was assaulted by a trespasser, a convenience store cashier who was assaulted by a customer, an individual who was hit on the head by a co-worker, several police officers who were assaulted by suspects, corrections officers who were assaulted by inmates, and home health care workers who were assaulted by clients.

If you’ve sustained injuries as a result of violence in your workplace, an experienced Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer can help you get the benefits you’re entitled to, and navigate the Minnesota workers’ compensation system. For a free, no-obligation consultation, call Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email to schedule a time to speak with one of our attorneys.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The 10 Worst Jobs of 2011

According to, Roustabout is the worst job of 2011. 

Until I read this article, I had no idea what a roustabout was. A roustabout is an oil worker. These folks are the key maintenance providers on oil rigs and pipelines.

So why is it the worst job of 2011? These folks perform back-breaking labor for 12 or more hours a day, at all hours of the day or night, in conditions ranging from arctic winters to desert summers to ocean storms. Some of these folks who work in volatile locations of the world face the threat of attack from terrorists or hostile individuals. Roustabouts deal hands-on with dangerous drilling equipment and face the risk of serious injury or death on a daily basis. Following the Deepwater Horizon disaster last year, the federal government instituted a seven year suspension of off-shore drilling in the eastern Gulf and Atlantic coastline areas, job prospects for oil rig workers are diminishing.

Careercast surveyed 200 different jobs, and ranked those professions according to five criteria: 1) work environment, 2) physical demands, 3) outlook, 4) income, and 5) stress.

And, without further ado, the worst ten jobs of 2011 according to
  1. Roustabout. Roustabouts perform routine physical labor and maintenance on oil rigs and pipelines, both on and off shore.  
  2. Ironworker. Ironworkers construct the steel framework of buildings, bridges, and other structures. 
  3. Lumberjack. Lumberjacks fell, cut, and transport timber to be processed into lumber, paper, and other wood products. 
  4. Roofer. Roofers install roofs on new buildings, perform repairs on old roofs, and re-roof old buildings. 
  5. Taxi driver. Taxi drivers operate taxi cabs over the streets and roads of a municipality, picking up and dropping off passengers by request. 
  6. Emergency Medical Technician. EMTs attend to situations which demand immediate medical attention, such as automobile accidents, heart attacks, and gunshot wounds. 
  7. Welder. Welders join or repair metal surfaces through the application of heat. 
  8. Painter. Painters prepare surfaces, and apply paints, varnishes, and finishes to the interiors and exteriors of houses and other structures. 
  9. Meter reader. Meter readers monitor public utility meters and record volume of consumption by customers. 
  10. Construction worker. Construction workers assist construction trade workers by performing a wide variety of tasks requiring physical labor. 
When I look at this list of the “worst” jobs, it seems like they all have at least one thing in common: workers in these jobs tend to work in worse conditions, and tend to be at greater risk of injury than many other occupations. That being said, I know many people who work in these occupations, and many of them love their jobs.

In Minnesota, if you’ve suffered a work-related injury, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, including medical expense benefits, wage loss benefits, permanent partial disability benefits, and/or rehabilitation benefits.

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

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Amputations and Loss of Limbs: Catastrophic Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Injuries

Amputations and loss of limbs are among the most catastrophic and debilitating injuries that can occur in the workplace. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10,000 workers suffer from amputations each year. The most common type of amputation injury involves partial or full fingers, thumbs, and toes. About 3% involve the loss of hands or arms, and another 3% involve the loss of feet or legs. The manufacturing and construction industries are responsible for about 2/3 of workplace amputation injuries.

Traumatic amputations and loss of limbs can occur in almost any type of work environment, but these type of accidents most often involve improperly or inadequately guarded machinery, including:
  • Band saws 
  • Circular saws 
  • Grinding machines 
  • Conveyor belts 
  • Drill presses 
  • Punch presses 
  • Food slicers 
  • Metal shears 
  • CNC milling equipment 
  • Forklifts 
  • Meat grinders 
  • Printing presses 
  • Milling machines 
  • Power presses 
  • Roll-forming machines 
  • Roll-bending machines 
  • Trash compactors 
Amputations can also occur surgically. For example, if a body part is too damaged to repair, it may be surgically amputated after an accident. Or, after an injury, if a body part fails to heal, and develops serious infection, surgical amputation may be necessary to prevent a deadly systemic infection.

Amputation injuries usually require extensive medical care and rehabilitation. Workers who have suffered amputation injuries often have significant difficulty returning back to work after an injury, and may incur substantial wage loss. An injured worker may also require modifications to their homes or vehicles to make them more accessible. There are a variety of Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits available to workers who have suffered amputations injuries, including medical expense benefits, wage loss benefits, permanent partial disability benefits, and/or vocational rehabilitation benefits.

Tragically, dozens of catastrophic amputation work injuries happen in Minnesota every year. A knowledgeable and experienced Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer can assist you in obtaining the benefits you’re entitled to. For a free, no-obligation case consultation, call Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email to learn more about your rights. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Are Minnesota Work Comp Benefits Taxable?

Working on preparing your income tax returns? The filing deadline this year is April 17, 2012.

Are Minnesota workers' compensation benefits taxable?

NO. Taxes aren't fun. The good news is that Minnesota workers' compensation benefits are not considered taxable income.

Visit us at for more information about Minnesota workers' compensation.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

When Pain Interferes with Your Sleep

When pain interrupts your sleep, it can literally add insult to injury. If you’re dealing with a workers’ compensation injury, pain that interferes with your sleep can take an additional toll on your physical health, your mental well-being, your ability to work and engage in recreational activities, and your personal relationships. 

Unfortunately, one of the most common things we hear from our injured worker clients is that their pain is interrupting their sleep, which can negatively impact all other areas of a person’s life.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the types of pain most commonly associated with insomnia include back pain, headaches, and temporomandibbular joint (TMJ) syndrome. Musculoskeletal pain, including arthritis and fibromyalgia, can also cause sleep problems.

Pain Interferes With Sleep

Pain disrupts sleep cycles. If pain wakes you up, it can cause you to miss out on deep sleep, and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Losing out on this more restful sleep can not only make you feel run down and fatigued, but it can also increase your sensitivity to pain, creating a vicious cycle.

Pain can affect sleep position. Arthritic pain and orthopedic pain can make it difficult to get comfortable at night. Joint and muscle pain can make it difficult to stay asleep at night. Lack of sleep makes you more sensitive to pain. Some research indicates that sleep deprivation causes increased production of chemicals that cause inflammation in the body, which can in turn, cause pain.

Some narcotic pain medications interrupt sleep. Some pain medications, such as codeine and morphine, can cause insomnia. They can also cause apnea, or brief pauses in breathing, during sleep.

Chronic pain may make it difficult to be active. Decreased activity level and lack of exercise can cause weight gain. Added weight can lead to sleep apnea, which can prevent restful sleep.

Getting the Sleep You Need 
  • Meditate or try other relaxation techniques. Guided meditation, tai chi, yoga and other forms of meditation can help train your mind to ignore pain.  
  • Get a massage. Research indicates that people that had massages twice a week experienced better sleep and less low back pain. 
  • Get active. Regular exercise can help with both pain and insomnia. Moderate, low-impact exercises, such as walking, yoga, or swimming, done early in the day, can help with both pain control and can improve your sleep.
  • Avoid long naps late in the day. 
  • Take a warm bath or shower before bed. 
  • Play relaxation CD’s with soothing sounds to fall asleep. 
  • Remove all light-producing appliances from your bedroom, including the TV. 
  • Abstain from alcohol in the evening. Alcohol disrupts sleep cycles. 
  • Run a fan or other white noise machine. White noise can drown out outside noises.
  • Avoid caffeine after noon. 
  • Don’t exercise or eat within three hours of going to bed. 
If you are having difficulty sleeping due to pain from a work-related injury, talk to your doctor. There are a variety of treatments available, including medication, physical therapy, and other treatments.

In Minnesota, if your work-related injury is causing you to have sleep problems, you may be eligible for medical care for your sleep problem that is covered by the workers’ compensation insurance company. Don’t let insomnia make your work injury worse. 

Call Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email for a free, no-obligation workers’ compensation case consultation.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Truck Drivers and Minnesota Workers’ Compensation

When people think of “truck accidents,” they tend to think about crashes where pedestrians, bicyclists, and occupants of other vehicles are hurt when they’re involved in a crash with a truck. While these people certainly can be injured if they’re involved in crash with a semi-truck, a tractor-trailer, an 18-wheeler truck, or another large truck, often times, the drivers of those trucks often sustain injures as well.

Truck drivers involved in on-the-job crashes often sustain serious injuries, including burn injuries, internal injuries, head injuries, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and even death. Single-truck crashes, such as when the truck malfunctions, or operator makes an error, or the driver loses control on an icy road, can also result in severe injuries.

Truckers are also more susceptible to other types of work-related injuries. Truckers commonly develop shoulder, elbow, and wrist injuries as a result of driving truck for extended periods of time. Truck drivers also commonly sustain injuries while pulling the fifth wheel pin, performing maintenance on the truck, slipping and falling getting in and out of the truck, or unloading the truck.

Fortunately, many truck drivers are covered by workers’ compensation, which provides medical expense benefits, wage loss benefits, permanency benefits, and/or rehabilitation benefits, regardless of who is at fault for the accident.

Truck driver workers’ compensation claims often involve a number of complicated legal questions. Over-the-road or long-haul truckers often sustain injuries in states other than where they live, or where their employer is located, which can raise questions as to jurisdiction. Trucking companies often call their drivers “independent contractors,” and argue that they are not entitled to workers’ compensation coverage. Truck accidents also often involve third party liability claims, or fault-based claims against parties other than the driver’s employer.

These can be complex and contentious cases. If you’re a truck driver who resides in Minnesota, if your truck company employer is based in Minnesota, or if you’re a truck driver who sustained injuries in Minnesota, call Meuser & Associate for a free, no-obligation case evaluation at 877-746-5680, or click here to send us an email.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Do I Need a MN Workers’ Comp. Lawyer?

Workers’ compensation insurance companies have lawyers to help them with questions and concerns. Many employers have direct access to legal advice about workers’ compensation claims. Why shouldn’t you have access to good legal advice, too? 

You can speak with a Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer at no cost to you. Take advantage of a free, no-obligation legal consultation and learn about your Minnesota workers’ compensation rights. 

At Meuser & Associate, we have a long and well-deserved reputation for protecting the rights of Minnesota’s injured workers. Here are some things to consider in deciding whether to hire an attorney to assist you with your case:
  • It is easy to make mistakes that can substantially hurt your entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits. Your employer and insurer aren’t going to warn you of these potential pitfalls, and in many instances, many injured workers are actively led by their employers and their insurers into these traps. These mistakes can cost you thousands of dollars’ worth of benefits. 
  • Minnesota workers’ compensation is a complex area of law. It’s usually not an area of law where a general practice attorney can take on a workers’ compensation case once in a while. Minnesota workers’ compensation law is based on statute, rules, and case law. It’s constantly changing and developing. An inexperienced or inept lawyer can miss issues on your case, which can cost you thousands of dollars. Most injured workers are simply not capable of mastering all of the complex rules and regulations on their own. 
  • If the insurance company denies your claim, a lawyer can help establish your right to benefits. If primary liability is denied on your case, virtually no amount of arguing or haggling with the workers’ compensation insurance company is going to get your claim admitted. Almost invariably, you will need a good Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer to bring a claim on your behalf. 
  • There are a lot of deadlines involved with workers’ compensation. If you miss a deadline for reporting your injury, filing a claim, disputing a denial of liability, or objecting to a discontinuance, in some instances, you may be foreclosed from making additional claims. Missing deadlines on your workers’ compensation case can, in some instances, permanently preclude you from claiming benefits for your work-related injury. 
Meuser & Associate has been fighting to protect the rights of Minnesota’s injured workers for over two decades. Arm yourself with the knowledge you need to protect your workers’ compensation rights. For a free, no-obligation workers’ compensation case consultation, call Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Epidural Steroid Injections of the Neck and Back: Minnesota Workers’ Compensation

Epidural injections deliver steroids into the epidural space around the spinal nerve roots to relive pain caused by irritated spinal nerves. The steroid reduces inflammation of the nerves, which are often the source of pain. About 50% of patients receive significant pain relief following an injection. The purpose of epidural steroid injections is to help patients get enough pain relief in order to be able to undergo rehabilitation program. Unfortunately, epidural steroid injections don’t actually cure the underlying problem.

Spinal nerves can become inflamed due to irritation from a damaged disc or contact with bone spurs. Symptoms of nerve inflammation can cause pain and/or numbness and tingling in parts of the body associated with the nerve.

Nerve irritation in the cervical spine can cause:
  • Neck pain, tingling, or numbness. 
  • Shoulder pain, tingling, or numbness. 
  • Arm pain, tingling, or numbness. 
Nerve irritation in the thoracic spine can cause:
  • Upper back pain. 
  • Pain along the ribs to the chest wall. 
  • Pain in the abdomen. 
Nerve irritation in the lumbar spine can cause:
  • Low back pain. 
  • Hip pain. 
  • Buttock pain. 
  • Leg pain, tingling, or numbness. 
Before the injection is administered, the patient is given a local anesthetic to the area that is to be injected. The injection is performed using a guided x-ray procedure called fluoroscopy. Contrast dye and a combination of numbing medicine and an anti-inflammatory medicine are injected into the epidural space. The procedure generally takes about 30 minutes, followed by approximately 45 minutes of recovery time. Some patients may experience partial numbness from the anesthetic in the arms or legs, which usually subsides after a few hours. Pain levels after an epidural steroid injection should be documented in a “pain diary” so the treating physician can evaluate the effectiveness of the injection. Improvements in pain will generally occur within 10 days after the injection, and may begin as soon as one day after the injection.

For more information about spinal epidural injections check out

Workers with neck and back injuries frequently undergo one or more epidural steroid injections, with varying degrees of success. If you’ve sustained an on-the-job injury, contact Meuser & Associate for a free, no obligation consultation to learn more about your Minnesota workers’ compensation rights. Call us at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Enforcement Actions Against Uninsured Employers in Minnesota on the Rise

Employees who are injured on the job working for an employer who failed to carry mandatory workers’ compensation insurance may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits through the Minnesota Special Compensation Fund. 

The Minnesota Special Compensation Fund of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry is also charged with enforcing mandatory workers’ compensation overage. Recently, improved technological access and staffing changes has allowed the Special Compensation Fund to increase its enforcement efforts against uninsured employers in the state of Minnesota.

Recently, there has been a 441% increase in the number of penalties issued to employers who failed to carry mandatory workers’ compensation insurance. The number of penalties assessed increased from 210 during fiscal year 2007 to 1,137 penalties in fiscal year 2011, and the amount of penalties collected increased from $711,941 in fiscal year 2007 to $1,684,982 in fiscal year 2011.

Penalties collected by the Special Compensation Fund go to the Assigned Risk Safety account, which provides safety grants to qualified employers for projects designed to reduce the risk of injury or illness to their employees, and to other related safety and health initiatives at the Department of Labor and Industry.

By increasing enforcement and awareness of workers’ compensation insurance coverage requirements, the Special Compensation Fund hopes to reduce the number of workers’ compensation claims involving uninsured employers, which will ultimately reduce costs to the state and taxpayers, and to employers throughout the state by lowering workers’ compensation premiums.

Meuser & Associate has represented many workers who sustained injuries on the job, only to learn that their employer failed to carry the required workers’ compensation insurance. Thankfully, through the Special Compensation Fund, the State of Minnesota provides workers’ compensation benefits to workers who are injured on the job, when their employers fail to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

All too often, however, employers who know they don’t carry the required insurance try to get their injured workers to lie about how their accident happened, or try to convince them not to make a claim. Some of these employers promise to pay the hospital bill, and some promise to pay your regular wages while you’re off work. Almost invariably, when that $3,000 emergency room bill comes, or when you need an MRI, that employer who made you promises to take care of you is nowhere to be found. Likewise, if you’re off work for more than a day or two, rest assured, after a couple days, that employer will stop returning your calls.

If you sustain a serious on-the-job injury in Minnesota, and your employer pressures you not to file a claim, there’s a good change they’re uninsured. Employers who fail to carry mandatory workers’ compensation insurance are subject to fines and penalties. If the Special Compensation Fund has to make payments to an injured worker, the uninsured employer may also be subject to a claim for reimbursement plus a significant penalty.

If your employer was cutting corners in the first place by not carrying workers’ compensation insurance, they’re almost certainly not going to be there for you if you sustain an on-the-job injury. Uninsured employers are looking out for their own interests, and if you’re injured on the job, you need to look out for your own interests. Report your work-related injury. 

For a free, no-obligation Minnesota workers’ compensation case evaluation, contact Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680, or click here to send us an email to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys. 

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