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Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Laws Change, Affecting PTSD and Wage Loss Benefits

by Steve Fields | September 27th, 2018

The Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Laws were recently updated for workers who were injured on the job in Minnesota. One of those changes affects certain workers who are diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The new law states that if certain types of workers are diagnosed with PTSD after January 1, 2019 and had not been previously diagnosed, the mental health impairment is presumed to be an occupational disease. In other words, the PTSD is a result of their occupation and due to the nature of their employment.

The list of workers includes anybody employed on active duty as one of the following:

  • Licensed police officer
  • Firefighter
  • Paramedic
  • Emergency medical technician
  • Licensed nurse employed to provide emergency medical services outside of a medical facility
  • Public safety dispatcher
  • Officer employed by the state or a political subdivision at a corrections, detention, or secure treatment facility
  • Sheriff or full-time deputy sheriff of any county
  • Member of the Minnesota State Patrol

While the statute presumes that the PTSD diagnosis is a result of their employment, it still leaves room for the employer or insurer to argue that the cause was not sustained in the course and scope of the workers’ employment.

The statute lists several factors where the PTSD is not considered an occupational disease if it results from “good faith” employment actions taken by the employer, including:

  • Disciplinary action
  • Work evaluation
  • Job transfer
  • Layoff
  • Demotion
  • Promotion
  • Termination
  • Retirement

This presumption that PTSD is an occupation disease is rebuttable by “substantial factors”. A substantial factor known to employer or insurer at the time of denial must be provided to the employee on the Notice of Insurer’s Primary Liability Determination (NOPLD) form.

Changes in Wage Loss Benefits

The new law also outlines changes in wage loss benefits for temporary partial disability (TPD), permanent partial disability, (PPD) and permanent total disability (PTD) relating to injuries occurring on or after October 1, 2018.

Previously, temporary partial disability (TPD) compensation was limited to 225 weeks. The new statute increases the limit to 275 weeks.

Permanent total disability (PTD) was previously limited to the age of 67, because the employee is presumed retired from the labor market. The new law increases the presumed retirement age to 72, except if an employee is injured after age 67, permanent total disability benefits shall cease after five years of those benefits being paid.

In addition, the permanent partial disability benefits increased based on the impairment rating and amount listed in the table provided within the statute.

How Our Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Can Help

PTSD became a compensable work injury in October 1, 2013 however, only if the PTSD diagnosis was result of physical harm in the workplace. Prior to that date, individuals suffering from PTSD were not entitled to any wage loss or medical benefits under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation system.

Our office had the opportunity to represent an employee of the State of Minnesota who had developed PTSD as a result of his work, however his claim for Workers’ Compensation benefits was denied. Since there was not any initial physical harm which subsequently led to PTSD, it would be difficult to prove that the PTSD diagnosis was a direct result of trauma due to our clients’ occupation.

The attorneys at Fields Law successfully fought the insurance company to help our client obtain a settlement of more than $160,000 to compensate him for his past and future wage loss, medical expenses, and his permanent partial disability due to his mental and physical work injuries. It was a stressful time for our client, and he was extremely grateful for our help during a time when he needed to focus on his mental health.

When the new statute goes into effect in January, the Workers’ Compensation insurance company would only be able to deny benefits for a situation like this if they were able to prove the PTSD was a result of employment-related actions, such as disciplinary actions, or if they were able to present substantial factors. Our client would have met all the criteria for a presumptive occupational PTSD claim.

At Fields Law Firm, our Workers’ Compensation attorneys understand the complex and changing laws for Minnesota Workers’ Compensation and we take pride in ensuring our clients receive all the benefits they deserve. If you were hurt at work, call Fields Law today at 1-888-343-5375 to request a free case review and find out how we can help you, too.