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Are injured railroad employees covered by workers' compensation?

Generally speaking, when a Minnesota employee is injured on the job he or she may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. The only legal requisite for the worker to be eligible to receive workers' compensation is that his or her injury must have been acquired while he or she was performing his or her job duties. Anything short of that will result in the worker's petition being disqualified. Workers are also covered if they contract a disease that is directly attributable to work-specific duties, or due to being employed in Minnesota.

However, as is the case with most rules, there are exceptions that need to be kept in mind. Some employees are covered by Minnesota's workers' compensation program even if they are hurt in another state. However, in certain instances, some employees in Minnesota may not be entitled to workers' compensation even if they are hurt in the state. For example, an injured railroad employee is not eligible for Minnesota workers' compensation if the railroad is considered a common carrier due to its involvement in interstate commerce, and the railroad employee is already covered by the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA.) This applies even if the employee was injured in Minnesota. Injured railroad workers are covered under FELA, and cannot apply for benefits under Minnesota's workers' compensation program.

Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that Minnesota law gives a health care provider the legal right to release medical data associated with a Minnesota worker's current workers' compensation claim without the expressed consent of the employee to the Department of Labor and Industry, the employer and the entity that is providing workers' compensation payments who are involved in the employee's workers' compensation claim.

However, any other medical information may not be released to anyone other party unless explicitly authorized by the employee. Likewise, medical data may not be released if an employee is covered under any other workers' compensation program, whether it is a federal program or another state's workers' compensation program.

Source: Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry, "Release of worker's compensation medical records under Minnesota and federal worker's compensation programs," Accessed Aug. 17, 2015

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