All posts by Alex Gish

Filing A Claim For Workers Compensation? Here Are 3 Tips For Winning Your Case

filing a claim for workers compensationAccording to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over half of the 2.9 million private industry injury and illness cases reported in 2015 involved days away from work, job transfer, or restriction. And while there are many different ways to navigate any given case, knowing what makes a strong claim is the key to getting the compensation you deserve. Here are just a few tips for having success when filing a claim for workers compensation.

File With Urgency

This should be fairly obvious, but if you’re filing a claim for workers compensation, it’s absolutely critical to do so as soon as possible after the injury occurs. Workers comp laws vary from state to state, but they typically require those affected to file their claim within 30 days of the incident. Otherwise, employers can deny the claim, and if not, the filing delay will certainly weaken your case. When it comes down to it, the sooner you file your workers comp claim after the injury, the higher your chances are for winning your case.

Receive Immediate Medical Treatment

Getting treated for your injuries and filing your workers compensation claim go hand-in-hand. If it’s a true emergency, don’t hesitate to call an ambulance, but otherwise, visit an urgent care center or make a doctor’s appointment for an evaluation as soon as you possibly can. This helps to expedite the process when it comes time to gather the appropriate documentation for your treatment. On top of that, insurance companies operate under the idea that if a person did not seek immediate medical attention after an injury, it wasn’t a serious injury.

Ensure Consistency

Finally, it is absolutely critical to make sure that the facts of your case are consistent. You need to take some time to think about what happened very carefully and always keep your story straight. This also goes for any witnesses that may be testifying or providing their witness reports on your behalf. The bottom line is that all parties involved in the case need to have the same understanding of how the injury occurred.

Ultimately, being aware of these tips for filing a claim for workers compensation is the key to getting the settlement you’re entitled to. For more information about making a workers comp claim, contact Workers Comp Wisconsin.

Don’t Be Fooled — Here Are The 2 Biggest Myths Surrounding Workers Comp Cases

workers compensation lawsIt’s no secret that navigating through the complexities of workers compensation laws can be incredibly difficult. Without the help of a qualified workers comp attorney, it can be almost impossible to get what you deserve. But before you pursue your case, it’s important to know the facts. Here are the two biggest myths and misconceptions surrounding workers compensation claims.

Workers compensation laws apply to all workers.
This is an understandable misconception, considering that workers compensation laws differ by state. Approximately 74% of states require all employers to have workers’ compensation coverage. Some industries have different specifications than others. In some states, businesses with five or fewer employees are exempt from carrying workers compensation coverage.

Mark Walls, Vice President of Communications and Strategic Analysis of Safety National in St. Louis, Missouri, explains on LexisNexis, “Employers can still choose to obtain coverage voluntarily. In June 2016 the New Mexico Supreme Court found this provision of their workers’ compensation law to be unconstitutional. Coverage is not required for domestic workers in 26 states and in five states they are specifically excluded from coverage under the statutes meaning employer cannot even obtain coverage voluntarily. In Texas, workers’ compensation is completely voluntarily.”

It’s also important to keep in mind that employers of certain industries (agriculture, construction, temporary staffing, and trucking) often classify their employees incorrectly as independent contractors in order to avoid the obligation to provide coverage. Since workers compensations laws have so many technicalities, it’s always best to consult with a work injury attorney regarding the specifics of your case.

Most employees who file a workers comp claim are faking their injury.
This is a major myth, not to mention very illogical. Workers comp claims require a thorough investigation. Not only that, but those who file claims are typically out of work for an extended period of time. The fact is that there are some dishonest people out there, but the vast majority of those who file for workers comp have completely legitimate injuries and cases.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over half of the approximately 2.9 million private industry injury and illness cases reported in 2015 involved days away from work, job transfer, or restriction. Knowing the answers to these common questions can help you determine the best course of action to take in the event of a work injury.

New To Workers’ Compensation Claims? Here’s A Quick FAQ To Help You Get Started

top rated workers comp attorneysWhen it comes to getting injured in the workplace, many people express confusion and frustration at the tedious process that comes along with opening a workers’ compensation claim. However, this is usually because they don’t fully understand the process. Filing for workers’ compensation does require some background knowledge, and it’s important to be able to navigate through your case should you ever get hurt on the job. Here’s a quick FAQ regarding workers’ compensation cases.

How can an employee know if they’re covered by workers’ compensation?

Even though workers’ compensation insurance covers more than 140 million U.S. workers (over 94% of employees), it can sometimes be complicated to find out whether or not you’re specifically covered by workers’ compensation. There are typically two main factors that go into determining your workers’ compensation coverage status: whether you’re an employee and whether your injury resulted from your employment. Of course, even if both conditions are met, you still aren’t guaranteed coverage. Talk to top rated workers comp attorneys for more information about the specific details of your case.

Does an employee receiving workers compensation benefits stop receiving them upon their return to work?

This question has some gray area as well. It depends on wages, among other factors. Findlaw.com says, “If the return to work enables the employee to receive wages equal to or greater than he or she was earning prior to the injury, then it is likely benefits will be stopped. If, however, the employee is still experiencing a wage loss due to his or her injury, he or she may continue to receive wage loss benefits, although the benefits will most likely be for a lesser amount.”

Are there any limitations to workers’ compensation coverage based on the circumstances of the injury?

Absolutely. Even though the vast majority of those who are injured at work will receive benefits, there are some strict limitations. These include injuries that resulted from horseplay, drug use, or improper equipment use. Again, workers compensation laws vary from state to state, so it’s best to discuss your exact situation with a qualified workman comp lawyer.

Ultimately, understanding these technicalities is one of the best ways to ensure you’ll get the compensation you deserve. For more information, contact the top rated workers comp attorneys at Workers Comp Wisconsin.

How to Find a Good Workers Compensation Attorney in Wisconsin

What happens when you’re injured at work, your medical bills and lost wages are piling up, and now you’ve filed for workers’ compensation benefits but been denied? Your next step needs to be finding a good workers compensation attorney. If you’re not sure where to begin, here are some answers to common questions.

How can I find a good lawyer? 

It is essential to look for an attorney who specializes in workers compensation law. In addition to recommendations from family and friends, you can seek referrals from state and local bar associations, and perform your own search online. When considering a legal representative, check their website for information including years of experience, areas of practice, and testimonials.

Why is an initial consultation important?

An initial consultation is your opportunity to find out more about an attorney’s experience and skills. A good legal representative will answer your questions and treat you with respect.

Can my attorney represent me through the entire process? 

Some Wisconsin workers’ compensation disputes can be settled through mediation or arbitration while others will require a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Look for an attorney who will be able to assist you in any way needed.

How can I afford a workmen’s comp lawyer? 

In addition to finding a lawyer who offers free initial consultations, you can look for an attorney who will not collect compensation until you receive the benefits to which you are entitled. That may include medical expenses and lost wages, as well as permanent disability, and vocational rehabilitation and retraining.

Lisa Pierobon Mays is an experienced attorney whose areas of practice are 100% Worker’s Compensation Law. For an immediate and free consultation, contact the Mays Law Office in Middleton, Wisconsin.

What is Workers Compensation?

You’ve probably heard of workers compensation before, but you might not be sure what it is.

It’s important that you understand your rights and privileges in the workforce even before you get injured, and workers compensation is a key part of that understanding.

Worker’s compensation is money that you receive from the government when suffering from a work-related injury. For example, if you work at a factory and get injured by an equipment malfunction, you are eligible to be compensated for your injury. This is important because often times, medical bills from work-related injuries are incredibly expensive. Plus, you will be out of work, so you won’t have an income to pay them. Worker’s compensation often called worker’s comp for short, combats this by providing you with resources in your time of injury.

Many people wonder what worker’s compensation covers. It varies a bit from state to state, but here in Wisconsin, worker’s comp covers the following:

  • Coverage of medical bills to a reasonable and necessary degree
  • Compensation for temporary wage loss, if the injury is recoverable
  • Compensation for permanent wage loss, if your injury prevents you from going back to work at all
  • Rehabilitation and training that is specific to your field or vocation
  • In the worst case, worker’s comp covers burial and funeral expenses

It can be difficult to file for worker’s compensation, and often times the patient isn’t sure where to start. If you find yourself in a situation where you need worker’s comp or if you’d like to learn more about what it covers, contact us. We can help guide you through the process and lead you to a financially secure recovery.

Three Musts When Finding a Good Workers Compensation Attorney

Finding yourself in need of a workers compensation attorney can be scary. If you never had a need to hire a lawyer before, it can be frightening and overwhelming to know if you found the right one. Price, location, prestige, and expertise are all considerations to take into account when looking for an attorney. Below are three musts a good workers compensation attorney should have.

#1 Good Communication Skills

Having to file a claim for workers compensation is already a daunting process by itself. However, having an attorney with bad communication skills can make the process totally unbearable. A good workers compensation attorney will make sure to keep you current on any big milestones in your case, all while responding to any questions you have in a timely manner. Further, a good attorney will make sure to have the proper balance of being both straight forward and sensitive. You can get a good sense to an attorney’s communication skills from the initial consultation.

#2 Diligent

diligent person is someone who takes great care in their work and is thorough in doing the tasks. Unfortunately, not all lawyers fall into this category. A good workers compensation attorney will make sure to be on top of your case. An attorney who is not diligent may overlook key aspects in your case or not take care of things in a timely matter. If you get a sense that your attorney is not diligent, then they may not be the right fit for you.

#3 Expertise in Workers Compensation Law

Any lawyer may say that they can take your workers compensation case, but why would you risk your benefits on an attorney with little to no experience in the field. There are different laws and procedures when it comes to workers compensation. When looking for a workers compensation attorney, make sure they have experience in workers compensation law.

If you are in Wisconsin and find yourself in need of a good workers compensation attorney, make sure to contact us today.

The Basics of Worker’s Compensation In Wisconsin

Each state has different laws and practices regarding worker’s compensation. If you are new to the state of Wisconsin or new to the worker’s compensation arena altogether, there are a few important things you need to know.

Who is covered by Worker’s Compensation in Wisconsin?

Pretty much everyone is potentially covered by worker’s compensation in Wisconsin. There are only four major exceptions to this rule; domestic servants, certain types of farm hands, religious professionals, and volunteers may not be covered by the worker’s compensation laws.

If you are an employee of a federal agency in Wisconsin, like the post office, the army, or the Veteran’s Association, your benefits fall under the federal realm, not the state level. This means that you are not eligible for Wisconsin worker’s compensation, but you still receive the same benefits from the federal level.

When does my coverage begin?

From your first day of work on, you are automatically covered by worker’s compensation. In the event of an injury, it’s your company’s responsibility to report the incident. After that report is filed, you must go through a three-day waiting period. If your injury keeps you out of work for more than three days, the compensation kicks in, and you will receive your payment within 14 days.

Can I go back to work?

You are eligible to return to work after your doctor gives you written permission. However, this does not guarantee you a job! In the state of Wisconsin, employers are not forced to hold a job open for you or create a new position when you return. Whether or not you can go back to work depends completely on your recovery and your employer’s decision.

However, there is one situation where you can take legal action against an unresponsive company. If there is an opening that fits your post-injury abilities, whether they are physical or mental limitations, your company should re-hire you. If they don’t, you are eligible to take the case to court and receive compensation for lost wages.

These are just a few of the many questions that people ask when considering worker’s compensation in Wisconsin. In fact, many people feel overwhelmed by the process, especially filing for compensation. If that’s the case for you, contact us. We are in the business of making your transition to worker’s compensation as smooth as possible.

 

Workers Compensation FAQs

Workers’ compensation laws protect injured workers in the event of an accident, disability or death, providing benefits, medical treatment, and lost wages. A lifetime benefit may be awarded for permanent injuries. Each state has different laws regarding workers’ compensation awards and settlements. Workers compensation is no-fault, meaning benefits are paid regardless of fault in the accident. There are several types of workers’ compensation award settlement types. Here are some basic facts and benefits, requirements, awards, settlements and workers’ compensation lawsuits.

Benefits

Workers compensation provides benefits to injured employees, including medical payments, disability income, rehabilitation expenses and death benefits. Rules on compensation vary from state to state.

Non-covered Injuries

Not all injuries to employees are covered under a workers’ compensation policy. Exclusions include injuries caused by willful misconduct, law violations and failure to comply with safety regulations.

Family Member Benefits

Benefits may be paid to individuals other than the employee who will be affected because of the injury. If an injured worker dies, the spouse and children will receive benefit payments.

Requirements

Workers compensation is a federally mandated coverage in all but two states: Oklahoma and Texas. Some states do not require coverage for domestic employees or for employers with less than three employees.

Maritime Employees

Because of the unique risks involved with maritime employment, the federal government has provided these employees special coverage through the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act. This covers employees working as harbor workers, shipbuilders and ship repairers.

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) statistics, the top workplace accidents causing injuries or fatalities are transportation accidents, equipment operation, exposure to harmful substances, falls, fires, explosions, and workplace violence. Worker’s Compensation coverage protects injured workers regardless of fault, paying their medical expenses and compensating them for lost wages.

Stipulated Finding and Award

Stipulated finding and award settlement types are ideal for workers who remain employed by the company they worked for when injured. The case may be reopened at a future date if the worker requires additional medical care. Stipulated awards are entered into voluntarily by both parties. The award amount is based on the doctor’s determination of the level of disability. The level of disability is calculated in a percentage and determines the amount of compensation an injured worker will receive. The injury may be determined to be either temporary or permanent. The employee may be required to obtain your medical care from the company’s or insurance company’s preferred provider network. In the case of a permanent disability, the worker can begin receiving payment for treatment before the case is settled.

Compromise and Release

If a compromise and release settlement type is decided upon, the case will be closed and no payments over time will be made. Such settlements are reached when an injured worker chooses to pay for future medical needs himself or has other health insurance she wishes to use for these payments. A compromise and release settlement generally totals more than the amount of permanent disability the worker would have received over time. The amount is calculated taking into consideration future medical needs that may arise. It is within the rights of an insurance company to reduce the amount paid to the injured employee by 3 percent per year if they pay the entire settlement at once, even though most insurance companies do not choose to do this. The amount of the award is based on the doctor’s recommendations for future care that may be needed by the injured worker.

Structured Workers’ Compensation Settlement

The structured workers’ compensation settlement is similar to the compromise and release settlement. A structured workers’ compensation settlement closes the file and releases the employer from further obligations. Periodic payments are made to the injured worker. According to WorkersCompensation.com, the insurance company generally either purchases an annuity from a life insurance company to cover the payments or transfers the obligation for these payments to a third party, which then purchases an annuity.

Workers compensation is designed to compensate employees for injuries received while on the job regardless of fault. Before workers compensation laws were established, workers were at an employer’s mercy should they be unfortunate enough to experience a workplace accident. The Employer’s Liability Act of 1908 was the first workers’ compensation law passed in the United States. Currently, all states with the exception of Oklahoma and Texas have mandatory workers’ compensation requirements.

Lawsuits

If an injury is the result of employer negligence or your employer intentionally causes you injury, a suit can be filed against him, bypassing the worker’s compensation system. Damages you may receive include mental anguish, pain and suffering and other punitive damages

Are Volunteer Workers Covered Under Workers Compensation?

If or when volunteer workers get hurt on the job, many owners or operators falsely believe that these individuals will be covered by workers’ comp. The sad fact of the matter is that in most cases and states volunteers are not covered by workers’ compensation since they are not paid employees.

In the state of Wisconsin, volunteers do not receive workers’ compensation if they are hurt while volunteering. Let’s explore this issue as it pertains to Wisconsin law more thoroughly.

Let’s explore this issue as it pertains to Wisconsin law more thoroughly.

The Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation Insurance Act

This law on the books in Wisconsin does not provide workers’ compensation benefits to volunteers. The definition of volunteer is also applied to individuals who work for a non-profit organization and receive money or gifts as compensation where the value does not total more than ten dollars per week. While volunteers cannot receive workers’ comp benefits under the Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation Insurance Act for any injury or illness incurred on the job; the law does not have jurisdiction over any other forms of aid that a volunteer may receive due to their injury or illness.

An individual who volunteers for a non-profit organization that is eligible for exemption or is currently exempt from paying Federal income taxes under the current Federal tax code, and receives gifts or payments of no more than ten dollars a week will not be considered an employee under the Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation Insurance Act unless the non-profit chooses to cover that individual on their plan.

While the law regarding volunteers in Wisconsin is clear, there remain some major questions surrounding the nature of what a volunteer is and when volunteers evolve into employees. Let’s take a look at how these two separate considerations are defined by the state of Wisconsin.

Volunteers

The state of Wisconsin defines a volunteer as an individual who provides their services of their free will on behalf of an organization or entity without getting or expecting payment or compensation. The popular area of contention in this definition is the receiving or expecting of payment or compensation. Depending on how those two considerations are answered this may make a volunteer an employee.

Volunteer VS. Employee

The easiest way to determine a volunteer from an employee hinges on the expectation or reception of compensation in any form. This could include something like a discount, voucher, coupon, etc. in exchange for a service. If the individual has no expectation and does not receive anything for their services, they are most likely going to be a volunteer.

However, this easily defined situation gets a whole lot trickier when the organization itself is receiving compensation for the services provided by its volunteers. If nothing of value changes hands for services rendered from recipient to volunteer or volunteer’s organization, then it is a case of volunteers. But, if compensation is received or expected by any of the volunteers or the organization itself then an employer-employee relationship may in fact exist. In the event that an individual is hurt or gets sick in a case where the organization was receiving some sort of compensation for the volunteers’ efforts the local Worker’s Compensation Division will render a decision based on the facts at the time of the injury or illness. In these situations, it is impossible to predict whether or not the claim would result in the finding of an employee-employer relationship or a volunteer situation.

The easiest way to be sure that any individual is a volunteer is to expressly confirm with them that they will not be receiving any payment or compensation for their services and that they do not expect them.

Cumulative Trauma Disorders: When are CTDs Compensable in Wisconsin?

Millions of Americans work tough jobs every day without recognizing the impact it can have on their body and their overall health. Even sitting in front of the computer for hours on end can cause serious injury, but because the effects are cumulative, such an injury is difficult to prove and receive compensation for.  These injuries are called cumulative trauma disorders.

In Wisconsin, occupational safety and health experts recognize cumulative trauma disorders, or CTDs, as injuries or disorders that result from excessive wear and tear on certain parts of the body that arise from doing repetitive tasks over an extended period of time. Risk factors are mainly associated with a person’s job function or work environments, whereas employers are responsible for making the workplace a safe and comfortable environment for all employees. If a worker suffers from cumulative trauma because of a poor working environment, the employer is accountable and must act to provide access to health care and rehabilitation.

Compensation Benefits for Cumulative Trauma Disorders

CTDs are quite common, but most workers don’t seek medical intervention until their condition gets far worse and more intolerable. Here are a few examples of CTDs:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome caused by overuse or excessive, repetitive force when typing on a hard keyboard
  • Chronic back pain caused by awkward posture because of continuously sitting in an uncomfortable office chair
  • Severe lung disorder because of prolonged exposure to construction fumes

Employees who develop CTD due to incidents of overuse at work may seek compensation benefits, including monetary coverage of medical expenses, lost wages, and other expenses for rehabilitation and retraining. For victims of workplace injuries to be eligible for these benefits, they must first notify their employer of their afflictions, even if the symptoms are mild.

Victims must also obtain and keep copies of the Report of Injury, as well as past and current medical records to support the claim. They must also document any written or electronic correspondence with the employer regarding the injury. These documents will be useful should the claim be denied, or if the insurance company fails to pay sufficient coverage for all medical expenses incurred. If the employee no longer works for that company, seeking advice from a worker’s comp attorney is a must. The Department of Workforce Development in Wisconsin provides a detailed explanation of which injuries and circumstances are payable or compensable.

Challenges in Filing a CTD Claim

Among other occupational injury classifications, CTDs are the hardest to prove as compensable. This is because when overuse or cumulative trauma precipitates an occupational injury or disorder, it is either too late to file a claim or the evidence is not strong enough to win a just settlement. Another reason is that not all overuse injuries are the result of one particular incident. In the context of Wisconsin worker’s compensation laws, circumstances have also changed following changes in legislation. One of these changes includes a reduction of the statute of limitations from 12 to 6 years, which can discourage workers from filing a claim.

Repetitive injuries are just as damaging as other work injuries. And what’s worse is that the implications develop gradually, sometimes quite late in life. Cumulative trauma is especially hard to prove. Seeking help from a trusted law practice, such as Workers Comp Wisconsin, is essential to ensure a smooth and fair settlement.

While employers are responsible for the well-being of their workforce, victims must be quick and proactive when it comes to demanding compensation benefits. Delaying the process may only lead to more financial losses and health implications.