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 treatment
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:
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.
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.
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. Settlement and Stipulation Assistance
Pursuant to Minn. R. 1420.2050, a stipulation for settlement must be filed within 45 days of the date the parties reached a settlement agreement. If the stipulation is not timely filed, and good cause for the delay is not shown after notice to the parties, the judge shall reinstate the matter on the active trial calendar, strike or dismiss the matter, or schedule the matter for another proceeding. OAH shall assist the parties in finalizing and filing a stipulation for settlement.
If a case has settled, the parties should notify OAH in one of these three ways:
If no stipulation has been filed 15 days after OAH receives notice of case settlement, a reminder letter is sent to all parties on the case.
If no stipulation has been filed 30 days after OAH receives notice of case settlement, a formal notice is sent to all parties on the case.
If no stipulation has been filed 18 days after the formal notice is issued, the case is referred to the assigned judge for action. The judge may choose to reinstate the matter on the active trial calendar, strike or dismiss the matter, or schedule the matter for another proceeding.
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.
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: