For many workers in Wisconsin, recovering their losses after suffering a job-related injury involves filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. If you have been injured and are wondering if you are eligible to file, here is an overview of what you need to know:
5 Important Facts about Workers’ Compensation Eligibility in Illinois
1. Workers’ Compensation is a “No Fault” System in Wisconsin
In Wisconsin, workers’ compensation is a “no fault” system. This means that proof of fault is not required in order to file a claim with your employer. Even if you simply tripped going up the stairs, you can file a claim as long as your injury is “job-related” (more on this below).
This access to “no fault” benefits comes with a tradeoff. While you can file a workers’ compensation claim even if your employer is not at fault for your injury, the amount your employer has to pay is limited. Employers that comply with Wisconsin’s workers’ compensation law are immune from job injury lawsuits in most cases. As a result, while eligible employees can file claims regardless of fault, the benefits that are available through workers’ compensation are limited to:
- Medical benefits
- Partial wage replacement benefits (also referred to as disability benefits)
- Training and vocational benefits
However, many injured employees are still entitled to substantial workers’ compensation benefits. If you have been seriously injured, and if you are unable to work as a result of your injury, it will be important for you to work with an experienced Madison workers’ compensation lawyer to make sure you seek the full benefits you deserve.
2. Workers’ Compensation Benefits are Available to Employees
In order to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, you must be classified as an employee. Under Wisconsin law, independent contractors are not eligible to file for workers’ compensation. As explained by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD):
“All employees working for an employer (other than farmers) with three or more workers are protected immediately by the Worker’s Compensation Act. Employers with fewer than three workers come under the law if they pay wages of $500 or more in any quarter of a calendar year. . . . Farm workers are covered if the farm employer has six or more employees on 20 or more days in a calendar year.”
While most employees are covered, some are not. Specifically, Wisconsin’s workers’ compensation law does not apply to:
- Domestic servants
- Employees who do not work “in the trade, business, profession or occupation of the employer”
- Small farm employees
- Qualifying religious sect members
- Employees of Native American tribal enterprises
- Employees who are covered under federal workers’ compensation programs
What if you fall into one of these categories? Or, what if you are an independent contractor? If you are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits under state or federal law, then you will need to seek compensation through other means. One option may be to file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer. You could also have a claim against another party (i.e. a property or vehicle owner, depending on how you got injured), and an attorney can assess your eligibility for other government benefits (i.e. Social Security disability) as well.
3. Workers’ Compensation Covers Most Causes of Job-Related Injuries
Since workers’ compensation is a “no fault” system, most causes of job-related injuries are covered. While your injury must be “job-related,” you do not need to be engaged in performing your specific job duties at the time you get injured in order to be eligible for benefits. For example, the following are all common causes of job-related accidents that can justify claims for workers’ compensation benefits:
- Slipping and falling while walking to the bathroom or kitchen
- Slipping and falling in the parking lot
- Hurting your back while squatting, twisting, or bending
- Accidents that occur while you are traveling for work
These, of course, are in addition to job-related accidents such as falls, collisions, tool and machinery accidents, and exposure to harmful substances or electrical currents. Regardless of what happened, if you have been injured on the job in Wisconsin, you should speak with a local attorney about your legal rights.
4. Workers’ Compensation Covers Most Types of Job-Related Injuries and Illnesses
In Wisconsin, workers’ compensation covers virtually all types of job-related injuries, and it covers most types of job-related illnesses. Eligible employees can collect workers’ compensation benefits for:
- Physical injuries from accidents and repetitive stress (including soft tissue injuries, nerve damage, broken bones, herniated discus, concussions, and other types of injuries)
- Impairment or loss of hearing, vision, or other bodily function
- Mental harm (including “nervous disorders, hysteria, and traumatic neurosis”)
- Occupational diseases resulting from “exposure over a period of time to some employment-related substance, condition or activity”
What about COVID-19? As the Wisconsin DWD explains, “[t]he short answer is maybe.” If a qualifying employee is able to demonstrate that his or her diagnosis is the result of exposure at work, then that employee should be able to file a successful claim for benefits.
5. Our Madison Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Can Determine Your Eligibility
Given the challenges involved with determining your eligibility and making sure you receive the full benefits to which you are legally entitled, it will be important for you to speak with a lawyer about your workers’ compensation claim. At Mays Law Office, we provide full-service legal representation for injured workers. We can assess your eligibility for all types of claims; and, if you are entitled to compensation, we can help you seek the maximum compensation available. To find out if you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, contact us for a free consultation today.
Speak with a Madison Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Free
Were you injured on the job in Wisconsin? If so, our Madison workers’ compensation lawyers can assess your legal rights and help you fight for the compensation you deserve. To get started with a free, no-obligation consultation, call us at 608-257-0440 or tell us about your situation online today.