Work Related Injuries
If you are injured at work you may have a claim for worker’s compensation benefits. Worker’s compensation in Wisconsin is a no-fault system meaning that the employee does not have to prove that negligence of the employer caused the injury and employers cannot point to the negligence of the employee as a defense. The worker’s compensation system is the exclusive remedy of an employee against his or her employer, any other employee of the same employer and the worker’s compensation insurance carrier.
Worker’s compensation benefits are primarily wage replacement and payment for medical expenses related to the work injury. There is no compensation for pain and suffering in Wisconsin worker’s compensation.
Work injuries can be traumatic or occupational in nature. Traumatic injuries are injuries which occur from a single event or accident that occurs suddenly. An example would be suffering a broken leg after a fall from a ladder. An occupational disease is a condition that is acquired by working in an industry over an extended period of time. An example would be a concrete laborer who has developed a low back condition as a result of his or her work over a number of years in the concrete business.
An employee who sustains an injury is entitled to be paid temporary disability benefits during his or her healing period (the time during which the employee is actively treating and recovering from the injury). Temporary Total Disability (TTD) or Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefits are paid at the rate of 2/3 of the average weekly wage, up to the maximum set forth by statute. The maximum TTD benefit is $892.00 per week for 2014. There is a three-day waiting period before temporary disability benefits are owed. After you have been off work for seven days due to the injury, then the first three days will be paid.
If an employee sustains a permanent injury the employee is entitled to payment of Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits. There are two types of permanent disabilities in Wisconsin: scheduled and unscheduled. An employee’s treating physician and the physician examiner for the worker’s compensation carrier frequently disagree on the amount of PPD for a particular injury. Permanent disability is paid at 2/3 of an employee’s average weekly wage up to the statutory maximum which is $322.00 per week for 2014.
Scheduled permanent disabilities are those disabilities that are listed in Wis. Stat. Sec. 102.52. Typically these disabilities involve injuries to the limbs, vision or hearing. Amputations are paid at the maximum number of weeks in the statute. Partial amputations or partial disabilities are paid at a percentage of the total amputation.
Generally unscheduled disabilities are associated with injuries to the head, torso and mind. Generally these are injuries to the body as a whole and are compensated as a percentage applied to a 1,000 week maximum.
The difference between scheduled and unscheduled injuries is important because an employee with an unscheduled injury may be able to get increased compensation through a claim for Loss of Earning Capacity (LOEC). No LOEC claim exists for an employee with a scheduled injury.
Additional benefits may be available for an injured employee depending on the circumstances. Some of those additional benefits include, vocational rehabilitation, disfigurement and safety penalty increases. Death and funeral benefits may be available for fatal injuries.