Case name: Anderson v. Frontier Communications, No. A11-0834 (Minn. 08/10/12).
Ruling: The Minnesota Supreme Court held that a lineman was not entitled to benefits because he did not provide his employer with timely notice of his injury.
What it means: In Minnesota, a worker is required to provide his employer with written notice of his injury or the employer must have actual knowledge of the injury within 180 days of the injury.
Summary: A lineman for a telephone company was required to bend repeatedly to mark underground cables with small flags. After working for the company for nine years, his back started to hurt. Years later, his back pain progressively worsened. He consulted with a surgeon and discussed his job. He told his supervisor that he needed time off for surgery but did not mention that his back condition was work-related. He did not return to work after surgery. The Social Security Administration found him disabled as of his last day of work. Nearly two years after his last day of work, the lineman's doctors informed his attorney that the physical demands of the lineman's job significantly aggravated his preexisting back condition. The attorney provided the company with written notice of the injury. The Minnesota Supreme Court held that the lineman was not entitled to benefits because he did not provide the company with timely notice of his injury.
A worker is required to provide written notice of an injury to his employer or the employer must have actual knowledge of the injury within 180 days of the injury. The court said that the lineman knew at the time of his surgery that his back injury was work-related. He said his doctors explained that his repeated bending at work caused his vertebrae to pinch his spinal cord and wear out the disks in his back.
The company did not have actual knowledge of his injury. The lineman did not tell anyone at work that his back condition was related to his job. The court rejected the lineman's argument that the company had sufficient information because it knew the demands of his job.
A dissenting judge opined that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that a "reasonable" person with the lineman's background, intelligence, and education would have known he had a compensable injury until his doctors informed his attorney that his back injury was work-related.
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October 4, 2012
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