What Type of Injuries Does Worker’s Compensation Cover?
If you live in the state of Wisconsin and you were injured while at work, you may be eligible for benefits through your employer’s worker’s compensation insurance provider. Wisconsin Worker’s compensation is an employer-financed, state-run insurance system intended to compensate employees who are injured at work for their medical expenses, time lost from work, permanent partial disability, and other related expenses.
Out of a workforce of 3.03 million in Wisconsin, 2.94 million are covered by worker’s compensation. That 97 % coverage rate is all the more impressive considering that employees in certain categories, such as domestic servants, farm employees, and some federal employees, are exempt from worker’s compensation requirements.
In most cases, an employee who is injured on the job and files a worker’s compensation claim gives up the right to sue the employer, with certain exceptions. In exchange, the employee receives compensation quickly from their employer’s insurance provider.
This allows the employee to avoid having to go through a drawn-out settlement process or litigation, which comes with no guarantee of any recovery at all. Worker’s compensation offers a simplified payment method for injured employees and covers almost every employee in Wisconsin. But, what kinds of injuries does it cover?
Worker’s Comp Covers Injuries By Circumstances, Not Type
Wisconsin law is silent on what types of injuries are covered by worker’s compensation. That is because what kind of injury you suffer is immaterial to whether you can collect worker’s compensation. The type or severity of your injury will determine how much compensation you receive but is not supposed to have any impact on your eligibility to recover.
If your employer is required to cover you with worker’s compensation insurance, and you are injured at work, then you can recover compensation. If you are injured in an accident while on the job, you’re covered, whether that injury is a repetitive motion injury, a sprained ankle, or an amputation while using machinery.
Further, “on the job” is defined broadly in Wisconsin. Obviously, if you are at work and engaged in the usual duties of your job, whether it is office work, manufacturing, construction, or any other job, and you suffer an injury, minor or serious, then you are eligible for worker’s compensation payments. You are covered if you are on an official work break when you are injured. You are covered if you are walking across your workplace’s parking lot on your way to starting work for the day. You are even covered if you are on your way to work and on your employer’s premises, using whatever transportation you normally use to get to your job.
Even if your injury at work has nothing to do with your job, such as being physically assaulted and injured by a coworker or a visitor to your place of employment, your injuries are covered by worker’s compensation. The key factor in coverage is not the type of injury, but whether you are engaged in the duties of your job as defined in Wisconsin law.
Worker’s Comp Covers For Delinquent Employers, Too
Even if your employer is not covered by worker’s compensation insurance, but is supposed to carry coverage under the law, you are not out of options for payment. The state worker’s compensation system provides a mechanism for paying claims that would be charged to your employer if that employer were properly insured. That program is called the Uninsured Employers Fund.
The UEF was set up to pay worker’s compensation benefits when their employers improperly fail to carry worker’s compensation insurance. When claims are filed with the UEF, the fund pays those claims just as if the claimant’s employer were carrying worker’s compensation insurance.
The UEF is funded using penalties levied against employers who are illegally operating without worker’s compensation coverage. The penalties are mandatory and not subject to negotiation. Uninsured employers have to pay the full penalty levied. The fund also pursues reimbursement for any claims the UEF has to pay because an employer is not carrying worker’s comp insurance.
The fund is aggressive in pursuing penalty and reimbursement payments. This is how the fund pays worker’s compensation claims, after all. All of the powers of the court that are available, including garnishment, liens against property, warrants, and levies will be utilized.
The UEF covers all the injuries that your employer’s worker’s compensation insurance covers. That means that the type of injury doesn’t matter. What matters is where and how the injury occurs. The circumstances of the injury are the only thing that matters. A sprained ankle, an accidental amputation of a limb by machinery you work with, even death, are covered by worker’s compensation insurance. This is true as long as the injury happened in what the law defines as the course and duties of your employment.
And Wisconsin law is pretty broad regarding what the “course of employment” includes. That, at least, is the intent of the law. In reality, the more expensive your injury, particularly for injuries that likely will require long-term or even life-long care, the more likely it is that your employer, your employer’s insurer, or the UEF are likely to dispute the extent of your injuries. It may also be argued that the circumstances of your injury do not fall under worker’s compensation coverage. Potentially, both arguments could be made against you.
These claims against you can be made at a worker’s comp hearing. You can also counter them at the hearing with your own medical evidence of your injury, evidence regarding the circumstances of your injury, or both.
So while the law says that all types of workplace injuries qualify for worker’s compensation coverage, the reality is that insurers and employers will attempt to reduce the cost of such injuries. The more serious your workplace injury, the more you likely will need a lawyer to obtain fair compensation for that injury.
If You Are Hurt At Work, Talk To A Milwaukee Worker’s Compensation Injury Attorney
If you get hurt at work, no matter what kind of injury you suffer, you are entitled to damages payments through worker’s compensation. The Milwaukee worker’s compensation attorneys of Gillick, Wicht, Gillick & Graf stand ready to help vindicate your right to that compensation.
Regardless of where you live in Wisconsin, if you are hurt at work, contact the Wisconsin workplace injury attorneys of Gillick, Wicht, Gillick & Graf. We’ll do a free evaluation of your case, with no obligation. From our Milwaukee office, our attorneys can defend the interests of injured employees anywhere in the state.