When you get hurt on the job, you need to find a way to cover your medical bills and other expenses. For most people, this means filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
But, how do you know if you are eligible for workers’ compensation? If you are eligible, how do you file a claim and collect the benefits you deserve? We recently discussed the eligibility requirements for workers’ comp, and in this article we provide an overview of the workers’ compensation process.
How To File for Workers’ Compensation in Wisconsin
To begin, it is important to understand that filing for workers’ compensation benefits is not necessarily a straightforward process. While the process can be fairly straightforward if your employer’s insurance company treats you fairly and you don’t need to miss time from work, it can also be difficult, time-consuming, and very frustrating. As a result, while you can try to file a claim on your own, it is generally best to entrust your claim to an experienced Madison workers’ compensation attorney.
1. Report Your Injury at Work
The first step toward collecting workers’ compensation benefits is to report your injury at work. As the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) explains:
“An injured employee should give notice to the employer within 30 days of any injury. . . . However, if notice is not given within 30 days, it is still possible to give notice any time within two years of the date the injury occurred. . . . If the employer receives notice within two years and the employer was not misled by the fact that earlier notice was not given, benefits may be payable. The two-year limit does not apply if the employer knew or should have known of the injury.”
In other words, you should report your injury to your employer within 30 days if possible (and ideally right after you get injured). But, if it has already been more than 30 days, you may still be entitled to benefits, and you should consult with an attorney promptly.
When you report your injury, your employer may ask you to complete an incident report, and it is generally okay to do so. You just want to make sure you provide accurate information and do not make any assumptions about what may or may not have happened. Minimally, when reporting your injury you should include:
- The time and date you got injured
- Your type of injury (i.e. a broken bone or muscle strain)
- The part of your body that was injured
- The circumstances surrounding your injury
- Whether your injury requires medical attention
If you have any questions or concerns about reporting your injury to your employer, an attorney can help, and you should schedule a free consultation as soon as possible.
2. Seek Treatment for Your Injury
It is also important that you seek medical treatment for your injury as soon as possible. In Wisconsin, you have the right to see any doctor of your choosing, so you can seek treatment before or after you report your injury to your employer.
When seeking treatment, you should explain your symptoms with as much detail as possible. You should also be sure to tell your doctor that you suffered your injury at work. Try to get copies of your x-rays, scans, and other records so that you can provide them to your attorney.
3. Document Your Injury
As the Wisconsin DWD also explains, “Complications can arise in a worker’s compensation claim, and the amount of benefits is then determined by the specific facts of the case. It is important that the injured employee keep a record from the beginning.” In order to fully document your work injury, it is a good idea to make note of details including:
- All information you reported to your employer
- The names of any coworkers who witnessed your injury
- Your initial and ongoing symptoms
- How long each symptom has lasted
- Your doctors’ names and phone numbers
- Any bills you have paid for medical care or transportation
- The dates that you miss time from work
4. Calculate Your Benefits
When filing for workers’ compensation, it is extremely important to ensure that you accurately calculate your benefits. In addition to coverage for your medical expenses, if you are unable to work more than three days after your injury, you may also be entitled to temporary or permanent disability benefits. Disability benefits are generally calculated at two thirds of your weekly wage, although there are maximum coverage limits for high-earning employees.
In terms of how long you can receive disability benefits, the answer depends on the severity of your injury. For example, temporary total disability benefits are paid, “until the employee’s condition has become stabilized and treatment and convalescence are not likely to result in additional improvement,” while permanent total disability benefits can potentially be paid for life.
5. Negotiate a Settlement (if Appropriate) or Apply for a Hearing (if Necessary)
Once you have fully documented your injury and calculated the benefits you are entitled to recover, you can start focusing on resolving your workers’ compensation claim. In some cases, this may simply mean receiving medical coverage and weekly disability payments until you recover. However, it is also possible to negotiate a settlement, and this is an option that many workers prefer since it avoids the uncertainty of keeping your claim open.
If your employer’s insurance company refuses to pay the benefits you are owed, then you might need to apply for a hearing with the Wisconsin A hearing on a disputed claim is a legal process, and it will be strongly in your best interests to seek experienced legal representation.
Talk to a Madison Workers’ Compensation Attorney for Free
Do you need to file for workers’ compensation benefits in Wisconsin? If so, our Madison workers compensation attorneys can help you seek the benefits you deserve. Call 608-257-0440 or tell us how we can reach you online to schedule a free and confidential consultation.