Here in northern Minnesota, we recently received some bad news with the announcement by UPM Blandin that it plans to close down one of its two remaining paper production lines. With the permanent shutdown of Machine 5, approximately 150 jobs will be lost. This is a significant blow to our community and to the workers and families who will lose their jobs.
What options are available to a person who has lost a high-paying job with excellent benefits?
Fortunately, the standard benefits available are unemployment and maybe some vocational rehabilitation assistance through the State of Minnesota. These can be lifesaving benefits in the short-term but a lesser-known available benefit might be workers’ compensation.
How would I be eligible for work comp benefits after a layoff?
There are a couple of scenarios where you might be eligible for work comp benefits after a layoff. To begin with, Minnesota work comp benefits are available only to an employee who was injured in the course and scope of his employment. That’s the starting point – you must have suffered an on-the-job injury. Following a layoff, that injury may mean eligibility for work comp benefits under certain circumstances. For example:
At the time of the layoff, you have work restrictions relating to a work injury. If you have suffered a work injury at some time in the past and continue to have restrictions or limitations from that injury, you may be eligible for wage loss benefits if you find a new job which pays you less than you were earning at Blandin. There are time limits and other factors which come into play but these are potential benefits available to you if a work injury is now affecting your ability to perform the full range of jobs in the workforce.
At the time of the layoff, you are already off work and receiving work comp benefits. Under those circumstances, your work comp benefits would continue in the normal course of any work comp claim. Vocational retraining may also come into play if your high-paying Blandin job is no longer available after you recover from the injury.
At the time of the layoff, you have a medical condition which has been caused or aggravated by your work activities. This would be a repetitive injury type claim where your daily work activities have gradually caused a disabling medical condition, such as a back, neck, shoulder or knee injury. You don’t necessarily need to have suffered a specific injury in order to be eligible for work comp. However, you must give your employer notice of any potential work related injury claims as soon as you are aware of them (for more information, please see this previous post Reporting a Minnesota Work Comp Injury).
You have a previous work injury and ongoing symptoms but have been working without any formal restrictions. This is a fairly common occurrence where a person is injured but the employer will not allow a return to work with formal work restrictions. In that situation, I have frequently seen employees ask the treating physician for a full release to work, even though they continue to have pain and limitations from the work injury. If the medical evidence and your treating doctor support the fact that you really should have some restrictions, however minimal, you may have an ongoing wage loss claim following the layoff.
What Benefits Might Be Available after a Layoff?
In addition to possible wage loss benefits, you may also be eligible for medical coverage related to the work injury, additional compensation if your injury qualifies for a permanent impairment rating and vocational rehabilitation, possibly including retraining. All of these benefits are generally available in a Minnesota work comp claim, depending upon various timelines and the medical evidence. (for more information about available work comp benefits, please visit this page of our website)
Consult an Attorney
If your life has been turned upside down by an unexpected and devastating layoff, you want to explore the possibility of any and all benefits available to you. If there is the possibility you are eligible for work comp benefits, it only makes sense to consult with an expert in that area. At Bradt Law Offices, we have been handling work comp claims across all of northern Minnesota for more than 34 years. We provide a free consultation in every work comp claim and will always give you our honest opinion about whether you have a claim and whether we can help you. We are only paid if we recover benefits for you – it doesn’t cost anything to meet with us or to hire us.
Call us at any time with your questions or to set up a meeting to evaluate your potential claims. Thank you for visiting our website.
Proudly helping your friends and neighbors with work injury claims across all of northern Minnesota for more than 34 years.