Workers’ compensation insurance has a long history in Wisconsin. This state was the first to provide a system of compensation for injured workers. That system has been protecting Wisconsin workers for 114 years.
The system provided workers with compensation for workplace injuries, such as having a foot smashed in an industrial accident, covered medical expenses and partially covered the cost of lost wages for the injured worker while they recovered.
Its advantage over the personal injury lawsuit system is that a worker did not have to prove an employer was negligent. The “grand bargain” of workers’ compensation was that employers were protected from catastrophic damage awards if a worker was killed or suffered some grievous injury, while workers would receive specified compensation for their injuries within a reasonable period.
And because every employer had to insure their workers, there was no effect on the competitiveness of any business, because no employer could decide not to insure to gain a market advantage.
Some politicians in the state now want to change that. They want to force workers to prove their employer was negligent and at fault, but will limit their compensation and prohibit personal injury lawsuits that could more fully compensate injured workers.
This would likely delay injured workers benefit payments. In additional, the new bill would allow employers to choose which doctors the workers could see, which would mean the doctors would have an incentive to deny claims.
The bill also would allow recovering workers to be fired, which would save the employer from having to continue making payments for their lost wages.
If this bill becomes law, there will be no doubt that the progressive-era has long since passed in Wisconsin.
Source: progressive.org, “WI Republicans Fast-tracking Bill that Effectively Kills Workers’ Comp, Jud Meter Lounsbury, October 23, 2015