In 1911 Wisconsin became the first state to protect workers with the nation’s first workers’ compensation program. The system was enacted as, and remains, a no-fault system. However, in 2015 the Wisconsin legislature enacted some changes to the workers’ compensation program.
What benefits are available in Wisconsin?
The Worker’s Compensation program was created to protect workers – and their families – in the event of a work-related relation injury, illness or death. The basic protection offered by the state’s workers’ compensation system includes:
- Present and future costs of medical care for work-related injuries and illness
- Compensation for current and future lost wages
- Retraining costs
- Payment awards for permanent injuries or loss of body parts
- Benefits to families of employees who lost their lives due to work-related injuries
- Ongoing occupational and physical therapy, in some cases
The new Wisconsin workers’ compensation law does not change these protections.
What has changed?
The new workers’ compensation law introduced some important changes, including:
- The maximum weekly pay benefit will increase. The weekly rate has increased from $322 to $342 per week for injuries occurring before January 1, 2017. For injuries that occur after January 1 the maximum weekly pay benefit is $362.
- The time allowed to file a workers’ compensation claim was reduced from 12 years to 6 years.
- If your employer has an alcohol and/or drug policy that you violated and suffered an injury as a result, you and your dependents will not qualify for workers’ compensation.
- If you return to work on “light duty” you may be fired for misconduct. Misconduct means: “action or conduct evincing such willful or wanton disregard of an employer’s interests as is found in 1) deliberate violation or disregard of standards of behavior that an employer has a right to expect of his or her employees; or 2) carelessness or negligence of such degree or recurrence as to manifest culpability, wrongful intent, or evil design in disregard of the employer’s interests or to show an intentional and substantial disregard of an employer’s interests or of an employee’s duties and obligations to his or her employer.”
Navigating the workers’ compensation system on your own can be challenging – especially when you are also dealing with a physical injury. To learn more about the benefits you are entitled to under state law, consider contacting an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.