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Middleton Criminal Defense & Workers' Compensation Law Blog

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Helping you seek compensation for your workplace injuries

Workers' compensation benefits exist so that employees injured on the job have access to medical care and other benefits. Employers are required to have workers' compensation coverage so that their employees will have this available to them. An employee does not have to prove their employer was at fault for their workplace injuries before the employee is eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits.

Last month we discussed some of the differences between workers' compensation benefits and personal injury damages. Workers' compensation covers workers performing tasks in relation to their work duties. Some of the compensation types - such as pain and suffering - available in a personal injury action are not available to workers covered by workers' compensation. On the other hand, personal injury damages may not be available unless and until a plaintiff wins a lawsuit against a defendant, while workers' compensation benefits are usually available much sooner and without the need of the worker to prove negligence.

I’ve been charged with OWI. What does that mean?

The charge of “operating a vehicle while intoxicated”, or OWI, is a common one in Wisconsin. Using 2015 figures, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Division of Motor Vehicles said that 448,624 drivers had one OWI conviction, 131,597 had two and 52,002 had three.

If you were arrested for OWI, you likely received two charges: OWI and having a “prohibited alcohol concentration,” or PAC. The first charge, OWI, alleges that your ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol. The second charge, PAC, alleges that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was over the legal limit.

What are your rights under the Fourth Amendment?

When law enforcement authorities come knocking on a Wisconsin resident's door and confiscate materials from their residence, people may not be aware they have certain legal rights that must be protected in the process. The most important right a person has is guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution: due process of law, including lawful search and seizures.

An unreasonable search and seizure is one that is conducted without a search warrant and without probable cause. Unreasonable searches and seizures are unconstitutional and the evidence obtained through the search will most likely not be admitted into court. This pertains to searches not only in residences, but also in vehicles.

What is a plea agreement?

Wisconsin residents may enjoy watching procedural crime dramas play out on television and assume that criminal legal issues are resolved just as quickly in real life, but this is most often not the case. The reality is that most criminal prosecutions in the country do not end in courtroom drama, but through plea negotiations and agreements.

A plea agreement is an important tool in criminal defense. It is primarily an agreement between the defendant and the prosecutors in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty to either all of the charges they are facing or some of them, in exchange for some concessions from the prosecutor.

Is my injury covered under workers comp or personal injury?

Workers' compensation insurance is a type of insurance that employers are obligated to purchase for their employees if they injured in the course of their employment. This means if a worker is injured in a slip and fall accident or something falls on them while they are performing a task related to their work duties, they would be covered by workers' compensation. This can become confusing for some Wisconsin residents who might be under the assumption that they can pursue a personal injury lawsuit against their employer. It is important to understand what legal heading one can recover under to ensure they are exercising the legal rights they possess.

Though it is true that the accidents one can get injured in are similar, such as a slip and fall or a car accident, liability depends on the task one was performing at the time of the injury or the physical location one was in when the accident took place. For example, if a truck driver was injured in a car accident while making a delivery, it would become a workers' compensation matter whereas if he or she was injured while driving the kids to school, it would likely be a personal injury matter.

What is the most common type of workplace injury?

Wisconsin residents work hard to make a living, which often means they spend more than half their day at their office. This makes their office their second, if not first, home. The only difference is where an employee can keep their home safe from all known dangers, they usually don't have the type of knowledge and authority required to do the same for their office. This means the obligation to provide a safe working environment falls on the employer's shoulders and when they fail to do so, employees get injured in the very space they spend most of their time in.

Fatal work injuries across the country increased by seven percent from 2015 to 2016. Though this was the first time more than 5,000 fatal injuries were reported, it was the third consecutive time workplace injuries saw an increase. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016 there were more than 100 fatal work injuries in the state of Wisconsin, of which 36 percent could be attributed to transportation incidents.

Heroin use and sale criminal classifications

Many popular shows on television these days glamorize the drug trade by depicting it as an adventure filled lifestyle that could bring around a lot of money very quickly. It also paints the picture that the legal and social attitude toward recreational drug use such as heroin is lenient, but this is far from the truth. In Wisconsin, heroin use and possession remains illegal. In fact, it is a schedule I drug, which means it is against the law to be in possession of even a small amount of the drug.

Both federal and state law regulates heroin possession and use. That means that penalties can be very strict, including both prison time and heavy fines. In Wisconsin, possession is considered a Class I felony. The sale of heroin is classified depending on the amount that is being sold. If the amount being sold is less than three grams, it is considered a Class F felony and if it is over 50 grams it is considered a Class C felony. The penalties double if the sale is made to minors and, if the sale is within 1,000 feet of a school, the penalties become harsher.

Unsure if your circumstance counts for workers' comp? Read this.

If you have been injured at work or during a work-related event, you may be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim to cover expenses related to medical treatment, lost wages and more while you recover.

But, if your injury occurred in a unique “work-related event,” such as while driving to work, you may wonder what exactly constitutes a claim. Here are a few circumstances that may be exempt from workers' compensation under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines.

Differences between misdemeanors and felonies

Wisconsin residents may wave off criminal charges that do not sound serious without realizing how it can stay on their record and come back to haunt them at different stages of their life. Understanding the different categories of criminal charges can help someone being accused of them grasp how the court is going to treat them and how seriously they should be treated.

Generally, the categories differ from one another in how much jail time could be meted out. As mentioned in last week's post, a traffic ticket could be considered an infraction. This is generally the least serious of the crimes one could be charged with and if dealt with timely, the person who received the ticket just has to pay a fine. Though generally they can be resolved with little to no court time and no jail time at all, if left unaddressed the penalties can become steep.

How many demerit points are given for speeding in Wisconsin?

Being convicted of speeding has many consequences here in Wisconsin. One is that demerit points will be put on one’s record.

What impacts do demerit points have? Well, the big ramification is that getting too many of them can lead to a temporary loss of driver’s license. A license suspension is typically issued if a person has acquired 12 or more points within the last 12 months.

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Mays Law Office, LLC

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Middleton, WI 53562

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