Investigative journalism site Pro Publica and NPR teamed up to publish a deep dive into the erosion of workers' comp benefits in America this week. The results were not flattering for Minnesota.
An interactive tool the investigative team put together found that on average Minnesotans receive payouts tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars lower than the national average for losing body parts on the job. See also: Target Won't Pay Employee Erik Lundeen's Workers' Comp
The table showing different states' average payout by body part included everything from a testicle ($3,750 in Minnesota compared to a national average of $27,678) to an eye ($22,800 compared to $96,700 national average).
Minnesota's payouts are below average across the board. At best the state's average payout for losing a pinky is $7,593 below the national average, and at worst the average payout for losing a leg is $105,221 lower.
Local personal injury lawyer Robert Wilson says payouts for lost body parts, called permanent partial disability, or PPD in the industry, only make up one aspect of a state's workers' comp system.
"I don't know how Minnesota compares on other benefits, such as amount of wage loss, duration of benefits, the ease of making a claim, or the length of time you have to make a claim," he says. "When I run into other states I think Minnesota is actually pretty good in a lot of cases, in respect to the benefits that are available."
In an emailed followup Wilson wrote:
The PPD system in Minnesota does not even try to fairly compensate a worker for their lost body part...I let my clients know to have very small expectation as to the amount of compensation from the PPD rating, and that the amount of money they will receive for the affected body part will be "better than a sharp stick in the eye."
Probably the most important benefit of any workers' compensation system is the manner and amount of wage loss provided to the injured worker. I believe Minnesota compares fairly to other states with respect to wage loss, but I would certainly like to see a wage replacement comparison between Minnesota and other states.
Send news tips to Ben Johnson.