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Workers' Compensation Guide for Self-Represented Employees



The Office of Administrative Hearings conducts settlement conferences, mediations and hearings for disputed workers’ compensation claims.  The proceedings are conducted in an impartial and fair manner.
 
This guide provides information that may be of assistance as you navigate through the workers’ compensation system. It is not meant to be comprehensive nor is it meant to provide you with binding legal advice.

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry also publishes a guide to the workers’ compensation process.  That agency is a valuable resource for questions you might have about workers’ compensation benefits, or the litigation process. You may contact them at http://www.doli.state.mn.us/workcomp.asp or by phone at (651) 284-5032.
  • Filing a Claim if a Dispute Arises

    A.    Disputes over wage loss benefits or liability for a claim

    Employee’s Claim Petition: If your work-related injury is disputed or if wage loss benefits have not been paid, it may be necessary to file a Claim Petition to initiate litigation.   If you are in a financial hardship situation, you may file an Affidavit of Significant Financial Hardship. Your affidavit will be presented to a Compensation Judge and, if the Compensation Judge agrees you have a financial hardship, a hearing on your claim will be scheduled on an expedited basis. 

    Claim Petition for Dependency Benefits or Payment to Estate: If a work-related injury results in death of the employee, it may be necessary to file a Claim Petition for Dependency Benefits or Payment to the Estate to initiate litigation.

    Employee's Objection to Discontinuance: If an administrative conference has been held pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 176.239, and if you object to the decision of the Compensation Judge, you may file an Objection to Discontinuance. An Objection to Discontinuance may also be filed if the time to request an administrative conference under Minn. Stat. § 176.239 has expired, but it has been less than 60 days since the insurer filed a Notice of Intention to Discontinue Workers’ Compensation Benefits to stop your wage loss benefits.

    B.    Disputes over payment of medical bills or approval of medical treatmen
    t

    Medical Request: If the employer and insurer have accepted liability for your work-related injury and a dispute arises over payment of medical bills or approval of medical treatment, it may be necessary to file a Medical Request to initiate litigation. If you have attended an administrative conference and received an unfavorable decision, you may file a Request for Formal Hearing to initiate additional litigation.

    If the employer and insurer have not accepted liability for your work-related injury, then it may be necessary to file a Claim Petition to initiate litigation. 


    C.    Disputes over vocational rehabilitation services

    Rehabilitation Request:  If the employer and insurer have accepted liability for your work-related injury and a dispute arises over vocational rehabilitation services, it may be necessary to file a Rehabilitation Request to initiate litigation. If you have attended an administrative conference and received an unfavorable decision, you may file a Request for Formal Hearing to initiate additional litigation.

    If the employer and insurer have not accepted liability for your work-related injury, then it is necessary to file a Claim Petition to initiate litigation.

    D.    Discontinuance conference requests under Minn. Stat. § 176.239

    If the insurer stops your wage loss benefits, you should receive a form called a Notice of Intention to Discontinue Benefits (NOID). The NOID form includes instructions on how to request an administrative conference concerning your benefits. You may request an administrative conference by calling OAH at 651.361.7901 within the timeline given on the form (usually within 12 days after the NOID is received by the state). This is called a “.239 request,” which is a request for an informal administrative conference. It is referred to as a “239 conference” because the procedures are contained in Minnesota Statutes § 176.239. If your wage loss benefits have stopped and you did not receive the NOID form, you may also contact OAH to request a conference by calling the number below.

    When leaving a message on the .239 request line, please be prepared to state the following information:

    • Employee's name; 
    • Employee's WID number;
    • Employee's date of injury; 
    • The date the Notice of Intention to Discontinue was served on the employee; 
    • Which box on the NOID is checked:
          - If box 1 or 2 is checked, state the return to work date;
          - If box 3 is checked, state the reason; 
    • If you did not receive the NOID form, please state the last date of payment; 
    • Include the name of the employee's attorney and the names of the attorney for the insurer and the QRC if known; 
    • If an interpreter is needed, please state the requested dialect; 
    • If you are not the employee, state your name and contact information. 
    You will receive a notice of your conference date within three business days.
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  • What Happens After You Have Filed Your Claim

    A.    Discovery process

    After you initiate your claim against the employer and insurer, an attorney will likely contact you representing their interests.  The attorney may serve you with a demand for information.  This process, known as "discovery," is essentially a process by which the parties exchange information that is relevant to the claim.  If there is a dispute about whether certain information is discoverable, a motion may be filed.  The rules governing discovery, motions, and other general litigation procedures are set forth in Minnesota Rules chapters 1415 and 1420.

    B.    Judge assignment

    Your case will be assigned to a Compensation Judge.  After that, correspondence or motions should be directed to the assigned Compensation Judge.  If you need to communicate with the Compensation Judge for any reason prior to the hearing, you should do so in writing and send a copy of your correspondence to all other parties. 

    C.    Settlement conference

    Typically, each case is scheduled for a settlement conference.  The purpose of a settlement conference is to discuss resolution of your claim.  At least seven days prior to the conference, you should submit a settlement proposal to the insurer’s attorney.  It is helpful if you itemize each of your claims, including any outstanding medical bills.

    You are required to file a Pretrial Statement at least five business days prior to the settlement conference.  Further instructions about pretrial statements can be found in the Standing Pretrial Order. At the settlement conference, you should be prepared to enter into settlement discussions with the insurer’s attorney.  A Compensation Judge will be present at the conference to facilitate the discussion. The decision to settle your case is yours to make; the Judge will not make that decision for you. If the matter does not settle at the settlement conference, a hearing will be scheduled if one has not already been set. 

    If you settle your case, a Stipulation for Settlement will be drawn up for your signature, and submitted to a Compensation Judge for approval.  A Stipulation Status Conference (SSC) will be scheduled approximately 45 days after the case has settled.  The purpose of the SSC is to update OAH and the other parties concerning the status of the stipulation.  The SSC for your case will be scheduled with SSCs for other cases, often in blocks of 50 to 100 cases.  You should come to the SSC prepared to explain why the Stipulation for Settlement has not been signed, and to propose strategies on a timeline for achieving final resolution.  The SSC will be canceled if the Stipulation for Settlement is filed with OAH prior to the SSC.  Generally, continuances of SSCs are not permitted.

    D.    Pretrial conference

    A Compensation Judge may set your case for a pretrial conference.  Pretrial conferences are typically held by telephone.  At the pretrial conference, you should be prepared to discuss your claim with specificity, including the nature of your injury and the benefits you are claiming as a result of your injury. You should itemize your wage loss claim and any outstanding medical bills.  In addition, you should inform the Judge what documentary evidence you plan on presenting at the hearing, and identify any witnesses you intend to call.

    E.    Hearing

    Hearings are scheduled in downtown St. Paul at 600 North Robert Street, and throughout the state at various locations. Once a hearing date is set, all parties are notified in writing of the date, time, and place of the hearing.

    If an interpreter is required for the hearing, you must make that request at least 30 days prior to the hearing. If an interpreter is requested, one will be provided at no cost to you.

    Hearings are held before a Compensation Judge. The Compensation Judge may request an opening statement by each party. Witnesses are sworn in before testifying. You have a right to present your own witnesses and cross-examine witnesses presented by other parties. You may submit documents and reports that you wish the Compensation Judge to consider as part of your case. Each party may present a closing statement on the claim and defenses. All hearings are recorded digitally or by court reporter. After the hearing the Compensation Judge will issue a Findings and Order. This is the decision of the case. 

    F.    Stipulation Status Conference

    OAH schedules a Stipulation Status Conference (SSC) to take place approximately 45 days after a case is reported as settled. The purpose of the SSC is to update OAH and the other parties concerning the status of the stipulation, and to make plans to achieve final resolution of the claim.  SSCs are often scheduled in blocks of 50 to 100 cases. The SSC will be canceled if the Stipulation for Settlement is filed with OAH prior to the SSC. Generally, continuances of SSCs are not permitted.  Parties should come to the SSC prepared to explain why the final resolution of the case has been delayed, and to propose strategies on a timeline for achieving final resolution. 

    If a party has signed the Stipulation for Settlement, and the delay in filing the Stipulation for Settlement with OAH is due to no fault of their own, the party may be permitted to appear at the SSC by telephone.  The party must serve and file an Election to Appear by Telephone at Stipulation Status Conference at least five days prior to the SSC. The presiding judge will review the request, and then advise the party whether their appearance by telephone will be permitted.

    Questions regarding SSCs should be directed to 651-361-7950 or oah.wcstipstatus@state.mn.us.

    G.    Appeal

    Any party has the right to appeal the Findings and Order of the Compensation Judge. A Notice of Appeal must be filed within 30 days of receipt of the Findings and Order. Specific requirements of the Notice of Appeal, along with instructions on how to serve the Notice of Appeal, can be found in Minn. Stat. § 176.421, subd. 4.

    The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) will review the hearing record. The WCCA can affirm, reverse, remand, or modify the Compensation Judge's order. All parties will receive a copy of the WCCA decision. Any party may also appeal the WCCA decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

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  • Obtaining an Attorney

    As the employer and insurer will likely have an attorney, it may be in your best interest to obtain your own attorney. However, you are not required to have an attorney at the hearing or at any proceeding at OAH. If you wish to have an attorney represent you, the following resources may be of assistance to you:  

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