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Consult your attorney for expert assistance on workers’ compensation disputes

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in Compensation and Benefits,Employment Law,Human Resources

Employees who receive workers’ compensation payments for on-the-job injuries are assumed to have retired when they hit age 67. It’s written right into the Minnesota workers’ compensation statute.

But a recent lawsuit argued that workers’ comp payments had to continue past that cutoff age because an employer had negotiated a legal settlement that didn’t specify that the payments would end at age 67.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court of Minnesota has ruled otherwise, rejecting the argument.

Recent case: George Frandsen was employed by Ford Motor Co. when he was injured at work. After receiving temporary disability payments, it became apparent that Frandsen was permanently disabled. He entered into a settlement agreement that converted the benefits to permanent disability payments.

Then, when Frandsen turned 67, Ford tried to stop the benefits and Frandsen sued.

The automaker argued that the Minnesota workers’ compensation law created a presumption that beneficiaries retire at 67 and therefore no longer are entitled to wage replacement. Workers’ compensation payments are designed to replace wages lost because a work-related injury destroys the employee’s ability to perform work—not as permanent compensation.

A lower court sided with Frandsen, but the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed. It said that unless the agreement specifically said the employer waived the retirement presumption, it applied. (Frandsen v. Ford Motor Company, No. A11-0126, Supreme Court of Minnesota, 2011)

Advice: Are you self-insured for workers’ compensation claims? If so, make sure you get expert legal assistance with claims and any settlements.

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