When extreme temperatures strike in the workplace, they can lead to debilitating workplace injuries. You might not think that illnesses related to heat or cold have anything to do with workers’ compensation, but in fact employees may receive benefits for these conditions.
Why Are Temperature-Related Illnesses Compensable in Minnesota?
Many different kinds of workplace illnesses qualify employees for workers’ compensation benefits. To receive benefits, you must be an employee and have a “personal injury”. By the legal definition, a personal injury can include a:
- Physical injury;
- Mental impairment; or
- Occupational disease.
Minn. Stat. § 176.011, subd. 16. In addition, the personal injury must arise out of and in the course of employment. The employee must get injured while “engaged in, on, or about the premises where the employee’s services require the employee’s presence as a part of that service at the time of the injury and during the hours of that service”. Minn. Stat. § 176.011, subd. 16. In other words, you need to be working or at least at a work location when injured, and it must be during a time when you are expected to be working.
Temperature-related illnesses fall under the definition of personal injury because they cause physical injuries to workers. For example, frostbite due to extreme cold can lead to loss of sensation in limbs and even tissue death. Some employees might need medical attention after only a short period of exposure to high heat or freezing cold.
Problems Getting Benefits with Temperature-Related Illnesses
Because different people have different tolerances to heat and cold, workers’ compensation insurance companies may try to argue that temperature-related illnesses are not compensable. For example, someone might be unusually sensitive to warm weather and fall ill with heat stroke long before coworkers feel any effects. Insurers also could argue that employees brought the illnesses on themselves: by arriving for work dehydrated, by failing to drink water during the day, or by wearing inadequate clothing for the cold.
If you have dealt with a temperature-related illness at work and are having trouble getting medical expenses paid, talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer. Your lawyer can help you counter the insurance company’s arguments, leaving you more time and energy to recover your health
Need help getting workers’ compensation for your injury? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.