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Monday, September 12, 2011

Workers Compensation Do It Yourselfers Get Help

Workers Compensation claims can be complicated and difficult so some states offer assistance to those who want to handle their own cases. Minnesota is the latest in a series of jurisdictions to offer assistance to both injured workers and employers.

The Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) has established a new Office of Workers' Compensation Ombudsman to provide advice and assistance to employees and small businesses.

"Our goal is to help injured workers and small businesses who are having problems navigating the workers' compensation system," said Ken Peterson, DLI commissioner. "The ombudsman will complement the other services provided by our agency's Safety and Workers' Compensation Division and will be an additional resource for parties who need in-depth help in resolving problems they encounter in the workers' compensation system."

Various stakeholders have long sought an ombudsman function to help injured workers who are often at a disadvantage because they know very little about how the sometimes complex benefit entitlement system works in workers' compensation. In February 2009, after studying DLI's oversight of workers' compensation, the Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor issued a report that encouraged the establishment of an ombudsman function to "help those injured workers who are overwhelmed with the workers' compensation process."

The ombudsman assists injured workers by:
  • providing advice and information to help them protect their rights and to pursue a claim;
  • contacting claims adjusters and other parties to help resolve disputes;
  • assisting in preparing for settlement negotiations or mediation; and
  • making appropriate referrals to other agencies or entities when further resources are needed.

The ombudsman assists small businesses by:
  • providing information regarding what to do when an employee reports an injury;
  • directing them to appropriate resources for assistance in obtaining and resolving issues regarding workers' compensation insurance; and
  • responding to questions pertaining to employers' responsibilities under Minnesota's workers' compensation law.
Hopefully more states will recognize that their to assist employees and employers in what has become a very complicated process. The Minnesotta effort will go along way to relieve stress and anxiety for everyone involved in the process.

For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman  1.973.696.7900  jon@gelmans.com have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.