If you work in Wisconsin, you are likely covered under the state’s workers’ compensation system. Wisconsin’s workers’ comp laws apply to a vast majority of the workers in the state. Under this system, individuals who are injured at work can receive a variety of benefits to help them with their recovery.
If you suffer an injury at work, you probably have many questions, such as: Does benefit eligibility depend on who was at fault for the workplace accident?
The basic rule
In general, most workplace injuries qualify for workers’ compensation benefits regardless of fault. Workers do not have to prove that an employer’s negligence caused an injury. Additionally, a worker is typically not barred from benefits if he or she was at fault for his or her accident. This may not be the case if the worker was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident, or if they deliberately caused the accident.
This does not mean that issues of fault are unimportant in a workers’ comp claim. For one, fault can have an impact on the amount of compensation a worker is entitled to.
Fault issues that could decrease compensation
Under state law, certain types of fault by an employee could lead to a decrease in his or her workers’ compensation benefits. A 15 percent decrease could be put in place if it is found that a worker didn’t follow the written and enforced safety rules of his or her employer in connection to the accident in which he or she was hurt. There is a $15,000 cap on this decrease.
Fault issues that could increase compensation
On the flip side, certain kinds of employer-fault can trigger an increase in an employee’s workers’ compensation benefits. A 15 percent increase is triggered in situations in which a worker was hurt as a result of an employer not following applicable state and federal safety rules. This increase is subject to a $15,000 cap.
The potential for third-party claims
Fault can also impact whether a worker can pursue a third-party claim in addition to workers’ compensation. If a worker was hurt by the actions of a manufacturer, supplier or other employee, a third-party personal injury lawsuit may be possible.
As this illustrates, fault issues can have a significant impact on a workers’ compensation after a workplace injury. So, it is an important issue to carefully evaluate when pursuing compensation.