Workers’ Compensation Benefits
When a Workers' Compensation related injury occurs, employees may be eligible for a range of benefits. These benefits include, but are not limited to:
- Medical Expenses
- Under Wisconsin Workers' Compensation law, an employer must provide medical treatment "as may be reasonably required to cure and relieve from the effects of the injury." Beyond standard treatment costs for medical services, medical expenses may also include treatment for pain management and prospective treatment. Employees may have up to 12 years to bring claims for future medical expenses.
- Temporary Disability Benefits
- Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) Benefits - TPD is available to an injured worker who suffers from a wage loss due to a work-related injury. TPD benefits are often awarded when the worker is restricted in the number of hours he or she is eligible to work or is placed on light duty (physical restrictions).
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits - While an employee is recovering from a workplace injury, he or she may be entitled to the actual wages lost during this period. If an employee is completely unable to work during this period, he or she is eligible for Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits. This amount equals 2/3 of the worker's average weekly wage (subject to statutory maximums).
- Permanent Disability Benefits
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Benefits - After reaching a healing plateau, a physician may assign a percentage of permanent disability based on the injured worker's loss of function. The amount awarded for PPD varies based on the part of the body injured and the severity of the injury sustained.
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD) Benefits - A Wisconsin worker may be eligible for PTD if he or she suffers from complete physical incapacity or he or she falls into a category known as "odd lot" - meaning, a worker is no longer able to engage in the type of work he or she knew and no other suitable employment exists. PTD benefits are generally restricted to unscheduled injuries, though exceptions do exist.
- Vocational Rehabilitation
- From time to time an employee is unable to return to the type of employment he or she enjoyed prior to suffering a workplace injury. In this situation, an employee may be eligible for retraining benefits which are administered through the Wisconsin Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). The purpose of this benefit is to "provide a method to restore an injured worker as nearly as possible to the worker's pre-injury capacity and potential."
- Disfigurement claims occur in instances that cause "an impairment that significantly affects the appearance of a person." This definition contemplates scars, facial tics, missing teeth, and hand tremors (plus other symptoms). The level of compensability in these types of claims is greatly affected by the extent of the disfigurement.
- Death and Dependency Benefits
- Death benefits are most commonly payable to dependents in Wisconsin when death is caused by a work injury, though there are other instances where these benefits are potentially awarded. Benefits in death and dependency claims are generally capped at four times the employee's annual salary, though that number is capped by the maximum wage rules under Wisconsin Workers' Compensation.
- Employment Status (Wrongful Termination Claims)
- If an employer terminates an employee because of a work injury or unreasonable refuses to rehire an employee following a work injury, the employer may be penalized up to one year's wages. The purpose of this law is to prevent discrimination against employees who have sustained work injuries.
For attorneys representing injured workers, hourly fees are not permitted. Wisconsin law limits attorneys' fees to 20% of the amount at which the claim is compromised or awarded. Defense attorneys generally bill Workers' Compensation matters at an hourly rate.