What Are My Rights if I Slipped and Fell at Work in Wisconsin?
Slip and fall accidents are among the leading causes of job-related injuries according to the National Safety Council (NSC). The NSC’s data indicate that 18% of all non-fatal work injuries result from slips, trips, and falls, with “floors, walkways, [and] ground surfaces” being to blame for 11% of all non-fatal workplace accidents.
So, what are your rights if you slipped and fell at work in Wisconsin?
The answer to this question depends on two main factors. The first is whether you are eligible for workers’ compensation. The second is what caused you to slip and fall.
Workers’ Compensation for Slip and Fall Accidents in Wisconsin
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident at work, you will want to find out if you are eligible to file for workers’ compensation . Workers’ compensation covers job-related accidents and injuries with only a few limited exceptions. As long as your slip was an accident (i.e., you did not intentionally try to hurt yourself), you weren’t intoxicated, and you weren’t engaging in horseplay, your accident should be covered as long as you are eligible to file.
A key aspect of workers’ compensation in Wisconsin is that it covers employees’ job-related injuries on a “no fault” basis. This means that you do not need proof of employer fault to file a claim. If you slipped and fell at work and you are an eligible employee, this is enough to establish your right to benefits.
When you have a workers’ compensation claim, the benefits you can collect depend on the severity of your injury. If you need medical attention but are able to return to work immediately (or within three days), then you are entitled to medical benefits only. However, if you are forced to miss work for four days or longer, then you may be entitled to receive temporary disability benefits as well. These benefits provide coverage for up to two-thirds of your lost wages (depending on your current weekly income) until you are able to return to work.
If your injuries are severe, you may qualify for vocational rehabilitation services through workers’ compensation as well. These additional benefits allow you to see a certified vocational rehabilitation specialist who can help you regain your strength and mobility if necessary.
Seeking Additional Compensation for a Slip and Fall Accident at Work
While workers’ compensation is a “no fault” system, many slip and fall accidents result from a property owner’s or business’s fault. If a company is to blame for your injuries, you may have a claim for additional compensation outside of workers’ comp.
With that said, if you are eligible for workers’ compensation, you probably can’t sue your employer. Employers that comply with Wisconsin’s workers’ compensation law are generally immune from employee lawsuits for personal injuries. However, if your employer wrongfully denies your claim, then you can (and should) take legal action to enforce your rights.
Fortunately, most employers lease their facilities from other companies, and property owners are not protected against lawsuits from their tenants’ employees. So, if you slipped and fell because of a property-related issue at work, there is a reasonable chance that you could have a claim outside of workers’ compensation.
Proving this type of “premises liability” claim is much more involved than proving a workers’ compensation claim. You need to be able to prove that the property owner was negligent, and you need to be able to prove that its negligence caused your slip and fall accident. But, since it is possible to recover far more through a premises liability claim than you can recover through workers’ compensation (if you were seriously injured), it is well worth discussing this option with your lawyer.
Additional Factors that May Impact Your Legal Rights After a Workplace Slip and Fall Accident
While your workers’ compensation eligibility and the cause of your accident are the two main factors that determine your legal rights after a slip and fall accident at work, there are other factors that will impact your legal rights as well. Some examples of these factors include:
- How Soon You Reported Your Slip and Fall Accident At Work – Under Wisconsin law, you must report your accident to your employer within 30 days in order to remain eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Reporting your accident promptly can also help with proving that you have a premises liability claim.
- How Soon You Sought Medical Treatment After Your Accident – Seeking medical treatment promptly is important as well. The sooner you seek treatment, the easier it will be to link your injuries to your slip and fall accident.
- Whether Your Doctor Accepts Workers’ Compensation – While Wisconsin law allows you to see your own doctor when you have a workers’ compensation claim (this isn’t the case in other states), you need to see a doctor who accepts workers’ compensation insurance. If you didn’t see a doctor who accepts workers’ comp, you may need to choose another provider for the remainder of your care.
- What Evidence is Available – While workers’ compensation provides “no fault” benefits, you still need evidence that you got hurt at work. If you have a premises liability claim as a result of your slip and fall accident, you will need evidence of the property owner’s negligence and the total costs of your injuries as well.
- Whether You Hire a Lawyer to Represent You – Given all of the rules that apply and the challenges involved in filing a successful claim, it is best to hire an experienced lawyer to represent you. Your lawyer will be able to assist with all aspects of asserting your legal rights—from proving your workers’ compensation eligibility to calculating the long-term costs of your injuries.
Discuss Your Workplace Slip and Fall Accident with a Madison Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Were you injured in a slip and fall accident at work in Wisconsin? If so, we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. To discuss your legal rights with Madison workers’ compensation lawyer Stephen E. Mays in confidence, call 608-257-0440 or request an appointment online today.