How New Law 2021 Wisconsin Act 232 Could Affect Worker’s Comp

workers comp

Wisconsin Governor Evers signed the 2021 Wisconsin Act 232 into law in April 2022. This law substantially changed the state’s workers’ compensation rules, particularly permanent partial disability (PPD) calculations. This article describes those changes in detail. If you have questions about receiving disability benefits, please speak to one of our Wisconsin workers’ comp attorneys today.

2021 Wisconsin Act 232 Changes PPD Benefits

The Act increased the maximum PPD benefit in the state to $415. The previous minimum amount was $362. This new benefit was implemented for injuries that happened on or after April 10, 2022. Also, the maximum PPD benefit was increased to $430 for injuries that occurred on or after Jan. 1, 2023. This was the first increase in the maximum PPD benefit since 2017.

Changes To Section 102.13(1)(b), Wis. Stats.

Another critical change to workers’ comp laws in Section 102.13(1)(b), Wis. Stats. The law was amended to let a worker who attends a medical examination directed by the employer and workers’ comp insurer have a neutral observer at the meeting.

Alternations In Part-Time Worker Laws

Another significant change to Wisconsin workers’ comp laws affects the wage rate calculation for certain part-time employees. Usually, if a part-timer did not limit their work hours to part-time, the injured party’s earnings were expanded to a complete 40-hour weekly rate.

With the new rules, an injured part-time worker who has been employed for more than a year has their hours limited to their part-time earnings as far as workers’ compensation benefits. But a part-time employee with another job when they are hurt or worked under a year can still expand their earnings to the 40-hour rate.

Workers’ Comp Is Intended For ‘Employees’

Workers Compensation benefits are designed for ‘employees,’ so if you are an independent contractor, you may not qualify for benefits. Some of the largest companies in Wisconsin that would need to pay full-time workers’ benefits are Aurora Health Care, Johnson Controls, and Fiserv. Most Wisconsin workers are employees. So, if you work for a business and receive a steady paycheck, you probably qualify for workers’ comp.

As stated above, independent contractor do not receive workers’ comp. However, many instances in Wisconsin exist where employers misclassify workers to avoid paying benefits. Talk to a Kenosha workers’ comp attorney if you think you are being misclassified as an independant contractor.

Most Workers Are Covered (But Not Everyone)

State law requires most companies to have workers’ comp insurance. However, there are exceptions. For example, some farms are not required to offer benefits. Plus, some companies follow federal guidelines on workers’ comp, not Wisconsin’s.

The workers’ comp laws exclude certain workers, such as volunteers and domestic workers. However, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development recently noted that workers’ compensation laws cover most employees in the state.

Workers’ Comp Pays For Mental And Physical Conditions

State law says that a workplace injury is mental or physical harm that happened because of an accident or disease on the job. Some of the harms covered are crushing injuries, burns, bruises, cuts, emotional trauma and distress, fractures, hernias, infections, hysteria, paralysis, strains, sprains, loss of vision or hearing, and nervous disorders.

You Need To Tell Your Company About Your Injury

It is understandable if you are hesitant to tell your company if you are hurt. However, this is vital to receiving workers’ comp in Wisconsin. The state government recommends filing your injury report with your employer within 30 days. However, it is best to tell them as soon as you can. You also have up to two years to file a claim, but it will be much harder to secure benefits by delaying.

Further, note that your company cannot terminate you for being injured and filing for workers’ comp. They also cannot deny you a wage increase or promotion for filing for benefits.

Always Choose Your Own Doctor

After you have a workplace injury or illness, you need immediate medical treatment. But remember that you have the right to choose your own provider, including a doctor, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, chiropractor, dentist, or psychologist you want who is licensed to practice. Your company cannot force you to visit any particular provider. However, they may require you to have a medical examination by the insurance company doctor. You should discuss the matter with your lawyer if they request an IME or independent medical exam.

Workers’ Comp Covers Most Medical Treatments

You are entitled to most medical treatments for your injury that lead to ‘maximum medical improvement or MMI. However, the workers’ comp insurance provider may object to some treatments, such as massage and physical therapy. For those types of services to be covered, they usually need to be ordered by your doctor. Or, the insurance company must agree in advance to cover these alternative remedies.

Disputes Over Workers’ Comp Benefits Are Common

It is common for Wisconsin employers to fight workers’ comp benefit payments. For example, your company in Wisconsin may deny that your back injury is related to lifting boxes in the warehouse. This is why it is wise to have your case reviewed by a workers’ comp attorney. They can maximize the chances your claim is accepted, and you receive maximum benefits. Remember, workers’ comp attorneys work without upfront costs. Therefore, if your attorney succeeds in obtaining benefits for you, they are paid.

Uninsured Employers Fund Pays For Workers Who Are Not Covered

The law requires most companies to have workers’ comp coverage, but some do not follow the law. To offer safeguards against companies that break the rules, the state provides an Uninsured Employers Fund. If you think you should get benefits, but your company lacks insurance, we recommend hiring a Wisconsin workers’ comp attorney to file your claim.

Contact A Wisconsin Workers’ Comp Attorney Today

Being approved for workers’ comp benefits without a fight can be challenging with specific employers. However, if you are having difficulty qualifying for workers’ comp, you have rights under the law. Our Wisconsin workers’ comp lawyers at Gillick, Wicht, Gillick & Graf will fight for your legal rights today.

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