The Minnesota Workers Compensation Statute meets the Minnesota No Fault Act.
In order to be eligible for Workers Compensation benefits in the state of Minnesota, you must have sustained a personal n injury or developed a condition that “arises out of” and occurred “in the course and scope” of your employment. (Minn. Stat. Sec 176.021).In order to be eligible for No Fault benefits in the state of Minnesota your injury must arise out of the “maintenance or use” of a motor vehicle. (Minn. Stat. Sec. 65B) What happens if you are in the course and scope of your employment and you sustain an injury that arises out of the maintenance or use of a motor vehicle? In many cases confusion ensues.
The law in the state of Minnesota indicates that Worker’s Compensation benefits are primary. That means the injured worker will be first eligible for benefits under the Minnesota workers compensation statute. If you apply for benefits under a policy of insurance issued by a no-fault insurance carrier, they are likely to deny the claim and argue that the Worker’s Compensation insurer should pay. One interesting question develops when someone receiving benefits under the Worker’s Compensation statute is then denied payment of ongoing benefits. The classic example of this involves the treatment parameters (see, treatment parameters: Minn. Rules Sec. 5221. Et seq.) that apply to the Minnesota workers compensation statute. The treatment parameters only allow for 12 weeks of “passive care.” Passive cares typically involves chiropractic care or physical therapy that does not require active participation from the patient. The question becomes whether or not an injured worker can continue to get chiropractic care after 12 weeks of services paid by the workers compensation insurer and then recover payment through a no-fault policy. The current answer to that question in the state of Minnesota is yes, you can. That is to say, after the Worker’s Compensation insurer pays for 12 weeks of chiropractic care, assuming additional care is needed and related to the work – related injury, then the injured worker can pursue payment of any additional treatment under an applicable no-fault policy of insurance.
That answer may, however, change in the near future. I have recently litigated a case with counsel for one of the major insurance companies. He advised me he currently has a motion in front of a trial judge seeking to prevent an injured worker from seeking additional benefits against his client. He believes the 12 week limit under the Worker’s Compensation act is exclusive and prevents the injured worker from seeking additional benefits under his or her no-fault policy. His goal is to preclude injured workers from recovering any additional benefits beyond what is available under the Workers Compensation Act. His argument is that because the Workers Compensation statute is the “exclusive remedy” for an injured worker, then they should be precluded from seeking benefits outside of that statutory scheme. I spoke to him in the last few weeks. I do not currently know the outcome of his motion. I will keep you advised of development as they occur.
This issue is potentially significant for injured workers and lawyers alike. If you do sustain an injury that arises out of the maintenance or use of a motor vehicle and you are working in her job at the time, I would strongly encourage you to at least consult with an attorney. There are a number of complex issues that are involved in these types of cases. There area number of potential claims that can be made and potentially should be made. These cases may also involve a potential claim against the third party if a third party caused the injury. Accordingly, I think that consultation will be worth the time. I would encourage you to consult with a lawyer experienced in both Worker’s Compensation and personal injury claims.