Can I Appeal If My Workers’ Comp Claim is Denied?

Yes, but act fast and seek legal representation in Minnesota

Workplace injuries remain a major problem in Minnesota. According to data from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI), approximately 72,500 work-related injuries and illnesses were reported in 2017 alone. Under Minnesota law, injured workers are entitled to no-fault workers’ compensation benefits. Unfortunately, some injured workers struggle to get the full and fair benefits that they rightfully deserve.

“If you’re injured, you should contact an attorney so they can at least explain your benefits and what you’re entitled to. I always tell people when they call that it’s important to be grounded and have an understanding of their rights,” says Michael F. Scully, a workers’ comp attorney with SiebenCarey in Minneapolis.

One of those rights comes into play if your claim for workers’ compensation benefits was denied. You then have the right to file a petition for further review.

How to Initiate a Workers’ Compensation Appeal in Minnesota

In Minnesota, injured workers must initiate the reconsideration by completing and submitting the state’s official Employee’s Claim Petition Form. This form requires comprehensive information related to the case. Among other things, you must be prepared to:

  • Explain when and how your job-related injury occurred
  • Provide an overview of the medical treatment you received
  • Clearly state the workers’ compensation benefits that you are seeking

If a claim is denied and you retain an attorney like Scully, “I’ll set up a time for a face-to-face meeting and ask them to send me the necessary documents,” he says. “Then we’ll file a claim petition, which is the equivalent of filing a lawsuit in district court. An unrepresented person can do it on their own, but it’s a real maze if you don’t understand what to do.”

It is crucial that the appeals form is filled out properly. As the Minnesota DLI explains, the failure to complete the claim petition or to provide adequate supporting documentation could result in a rejected appeal. You should be sure to include sufficient evidence to support your case, including a doctor’s report that justifies your claim.

What Happens After You File the Petition?

After this filing, the employer and insurer will often turn to its own legal team and prepare for litigation, Scully says. “When you file a claim petition, within that day or even that hour, it’s assigned to a judge and the wheels are moving forward.”

The petition form is essentially the first step in the litigation process.

“What happens, then, is the discovery period,” Scully says, wherein you and your attorney can gather more evidence to support your case. “The defense has 120 days to get an independent medical exam and file it with the Office of Administrative Hearings. Within 180 days of filing the claim petition, a settlement conference is scheduled with a settlement judge—not the hearing judge. Those are a one-hour, informal conference to see if you can resolve the claim. If it’s not [resolved], you’ll have a hearing within 90 days. So, within nine months, an injured worker will get a hearing before a workers’ compensation judge.”

After the hearing, the judge will make and file a decision within 60 days. If you are still dissatisfied with the result, you have 30 days to file with the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals.

Do You Need Legal Representation?

Workers’ compensation appeals are complex and, though many resolve via settlement, several require hearings. If your claim was denied, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Minnesota workers’ comp attorney who can give you guidance on the exact steps you need to take to protect your legal rights and financial interests. Even a minor mistake on your appeal—such as forgetting to include important evidence along with your Employee’s Claim Petition—could cause serious damage to your case.

“Contact an attorney even if it’s just to find out your rights, because it doesn’t cost you anything,” Scully says. “We only get paid if we make a recovery of benefits [from the employer’s insurance], and that’s dictated by statute. If we’re not successful, we don’t send anyone a bill.”

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