Workers’ Comp Oversights Affect Injured Rochester Workers

There are a number of injured workers in Rochester and all throughout Minnesota waiting on workers’ compensation benefits.

The philosophy behind the enactment of the workers’ compensation statutes in each state was to promptly provide benefits to injured workers for their qualifying injuries and with little delay or hassle.

We all know that many see large hurdles when they try to get their workers’ compensation benefits. Some are even denied and they have to appeal the decisions so that they can receive the benefits that they deserve.

When the system started, it began with an exclusive remedy provision that would not allow an injured employee to collect benefits and then file a lawsuit against their employer for the injury. This provision existed under a tort theory for damages that were in excess of the benefits the employee would receive in workers’ compensation.

However, the employee could sue if they decided to not file for workers’ compensation benefits, especially since winning the lawsuit could benefit them more. However, there is a gamble involved, as not all injury lawsuits against an employer are won, the settlement may be too low, and a trial takes too long.

But when benefits are not rendered promptly or properly, there are states that provide for fines and penalties while they still retain the exclusive remedy provision.

Nonetheless, the help of an experienced attorney can help. Even if bad faith exists, something can be done so that the employee gets the benefits that they deserve. The goal is to acquire the benefits the first time they are applied for, but there are times in which the case must go to appeals for one reason or another. Sometimes the reason seems rather ludicrous, while other times it is due to a misunderstanding. Sometimes the employers are at the helm to keep insurance costs down.

Unfortunately, there have been documented cases where delays at the hands of employers have become fatal. Perhaps the medical insurance was not there for the care or there is another reason why. In Romano vs. Kroger and Sedgwick CMS, Romano had contracted a MRSA infection from a work injury, but the MRSA infection itself was not being covered. It was finally said to be a “compensable consequence” of the work injury, which required the self-insured employer, Ralphs, a company owned by Kroger and Sedgwick CMS, to pay. Unfortunately they ignored the judge’s orders and continued to delay the treatment.

After a great number of hospitalizations, Romano’s condition continued to get worse and he died on May 2, 2008. He died from cardiorespiratory arrest, pneumonia, and respiratory failure. All of this was caused by the MRSA infection and the medical conditions related to it. Amazingly, Sedgwick denied payment until the end. As of April 2013, the medical bills were still unpaid. This resulted in the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board to refer Sedgwick CMS to the Division of Worker’s Compensation’s Audit Unit. The reason for this referral was due to the unreasonable delay or denial of treatment for a patient who was dying of an infection he contracted after he underwent surgery for a compensable work injury.

There are employees throughout Rochester and all of Minnesota waiting for benefits to be paid or to receive the insurance that they need to make a difference in their lives and many are fighting for their right to have some kind of quality of life.