Wisconsin Workers' Compensation Attorneys
Madison Workplace Injury Attorneys
Workers' compensation exists to provide a dependable source of benefits for employees who have been injured on the job, regardless of who was at fault for those injuries. Unfortunately, some employers try to deny their employees the benefits they are entitled to.
Our Wisconsin workers' compensation lawyers at the Madison-based law firm of Stafford, Neal & Soule, S.C. represent injured workers throughout the state of Wisconsin. We have the knowledge and experience to guide you through the workers' comp system, addressing issues such as the following:
- Types of workplace injuries: You can qualify for workers' comp benefits on the basis of a workplace accident injury or an occupational disease such as repetitive strain.
- Temporary disability benefits: While you are in the process of recovering from a workplace injury, you may be entitled to temporary total or partial disability benefits.
- Permanent partial disability benefits: If your doctor says that your injuries have permanently impacted a bodily function, you may be eligible for these benefits.
- Retraining and loss of earning capacity benefits: If your employer is permanently unable to provide you with work that you are able to do, you may be eligible for these benefits.
- Why your benefits have been denied: Insurance companies are in the business of denying claims whenever possible. Claims are often denied after reports from doctors hired by the insurance company, even if they have never examined you. We can help.
- Wisconsin workers' compensation FAQ: There are a few key questions that we get asked often. We are prepared to answer these and any other questions you may have.
Attorney John D. Neal, a partner in our firm, is a coauthor of the Wisconsin Worker's Compensation Handbook, a comprehensive legal treatise that has been cited numerous times in published opinions of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.
If you have been injured on the job or have lost a loved one in a workplace accident, we can help. To discuss your case, call us today at 608-251-6045 or send us an email.
Types of Workplace Injuries
In Wisconsin, an employee who suffers any type of workplace injury – whether as a result of a workplace accident or an occupational disease – is entitled to workers' compensation benefits, including medical treatment, lost-wage benefits and disability benefits.
At Stafford, Neal & Soule, S.C., our three Madison workers' compensation attorneys have more than 95 years of combined experience helping clients throughout the state pursue the benefits they deserve. If you've suffered a work-related injury, contact us today for a free consultation.
Understanding Workplace Accident/Injuries
If you have been injured in an accident that occurred in the workplace or while you were performing your work duties, you are entitled to workers' compensation benefits. It is not necessary to prove who was at fault for the accident as long as it was work-related.
Common types of workplace accidents include slip-and-fall accidents, lifting-related accidents, machine accidents, forklift accidents and auto accidents.
Workplace accidents can result in serious injuries to the back, neck, spinal cord, knees, shoulders and other important parts of the body. The recovery process can take days, weeks, months or years, depending on the nature and severity of the injuries.
Understanding Occupational Diseases
An occupational disease is a condition or illness that develops over a period of time as a result of work-related activities. If you need medical treatment or time off work due to an occupational disease, you are entitled to workers' compensation. Common examples include:
- Repetitive strain injury: Jobs that require workers to engage in repetitive motions or expose them to repetitive traumas often result in serious muscle injuries. In particular, repetitive heavy lifting can lead to lower back conditions that are eligible for workers' compensation benefits.
- Exposure to dust and chemicals: Silicosis, mesothelioma and other diseases caused by exposure to hazardous substances are very often work-related.
- Hearing loss: Many people who experience hearing loss have been exposed to high decibel levels in the workplace without adequate protection for their ears.
It can be difficult to prove that a disease is occupational in nature. Our attorneys understand the applicable legal standards and what types of evidence are necessary. If you have suffered any type of workplace injury, call us today at 608-251-6045 or send us an email.
Temporary Disability Benefits
In Wisconsin, if you are not able to go back to work right away due to a workplace injury you have suffered, you are entitled to temporary disability benefits. These tax-free benefits are based on two-thirds of the average weekly wage (AWW) you earned before you got injured.
At Stafford, Neal & Soule, S.C., our experienced Madison temporary disability benefits lawyers help injured employees pursue workers' compensation claims. If you are having any trouble getting the temporary disability benefits you deserve, contact us today to discuss your options.
Out on Comp? You Are Entitled to Lost Wage Benefits.
Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are a key part of the Wisconsin workers' compensation system. When that system works properly, injured workers have a dependable source of income to replace their lost wages until they are medically able to go back to work.
As long as your treating doctor says you cannot go back to work due to a temporary disability for which you are receiving ongoing care, you are entitled to claim TTD benefits.
If your employer's insurer claims that you do not need to be restricted from work or that you have already fully healed, it may try to deny payment of temporary disability benefits to you. If you are not getting paid what you deserve, you have a right to a fair hearing.
Worried About Getting Shortchanged? We Can Help.
The calculation of your average weekly wage can have a major impact on your TTD benefits. Many employees who normally work overtime are entitled to have their benefits calculated on that basis, and many part-time workers are still entitled to full-time disability benefits.
An experienced lawyer can help you sort through these issues and obtain what you deserve. Our attorneys are known throughout Wisconsin as authorities on work injury law. We have the experience to identify the compensation you are entitled to and stand up for your rights.
Assigned to Limited Duty? You May Still Deserve Benefits.
If your doctor has cleared you to work with temporary restrictions, such as a maximum number of pounds you can lift or hours you can work, your employer may assign you light-duty work with lower weekly pay. If so, you are entitled to temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits.
If you are having trouble getting the benefits you deserve, don't hesitate to call us at 608-251-6045 or email us to set up a free consultation with an experienced Wisconsin workers' compensation attorney. We will never charge you a fee unless we help you get benefits.
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
Most people who suffer workplace injuries are eventually able to return to work. However, their injuries often have permanent physical impacts that can affect their future employment and quality of life. That is why permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits exist.
At the Madison-based law firm of Stafford, Neal & Soule, S.C., our Wisconsin permanent partial disability benefits lawyers help injured workers throughout the state obtain the benefits they are legally entitled to. For a free consultation with an experienced attorney, contact us today.
Have Your Injuries Had a Permanent Impact?
Once the doctor who is treating you for your workplace injuries determines that you have achieved maximum medical improvement (MMI), you may be entitled to permanent partial disability benefits for any lingering effects of your injuries on your bodily function.
PPD is a benefit that is paid out for a fixed number of weeks, based on your doctor's opinion of the percentage of your use of one or more body parts that you have lost.
In order to get the benefits you deserve, it is important to go to a doctor who understands how the workers' compensation system works and what it means for someone to be permanently disabled. The lawyers at our firm will work with your doctor to obtain all of the information necessary to claim your workers' compensation benefits.
Are You Unable to Go Back to Your Previous Job?
If, once you reach maximum medical improvement, you are not able to return to your old job and your employer is not able to give you a new job that you are medically capable of doing, you may be entitled to additional benefits for retraining or loss of earning capacity.
Our attorneys are known throughout Wisconsin as authorities on workers' compensation law and advocates for injured workers. To discuss what we can do to help you get the benefits you deserve for a work-related disability, call us at 608-251-6045 or send us an email.
Retraining and Loss of Earning Capacity
If you have been injured at work in Wisconsin and your doctor has placed permanent restrictions on you that prevent you from returning to work for your old employer, you may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits for retraining or loss of earning capacity.
At the law firm of Stafford, Neal & Soule, S.C., our Madison work injury compensation attorneys are dedicated to making sure injured workers get all of the benefits they are legally entitled to. For a free consultation with an experienced lawyer about your work injury claim, contact us today.
Unable to Return to Your Job? You May Be Eligible for Benefits.
Everyone who suffers permanent consequences from a workplace injury is entitled to permanent partial disability benefits, but if your injuries have caused you to lose your job, you may need much more to get back on your feet, and you may be eligible for the following:
- Retraining: If it is possible to restore your earning capacity through training in a new trade or profession, your employer may be required to pay for that retraining. You should definitely at least explore this option before accepting a payment for lost earning capacity.
- Loss of earning capacity: If your circumstances are such that you are not able to regain your earning capacity through retraining, you may be entitled to additional payments to compensate you for the permanent impact of your injuries on your future earnings.
Call Our Respected Wisconsin Workers' Compensation Lawyers
Attorney David L. Weir – a member of our firm – was one of the authors of the current Wisconsin state statute on work injury retraining. We have an in-depth knowledge of the legal standards and procedures affecting claims for retraining and lost earning capacity.
If a work injury has made it impossible for you to return to your job, don't lose your opportunity to get the maximum workers' compensation benefits available to you. To discuss your options, call us today at 608-251-6045 or send us an email.
Why Your Benefits Have Been Denied
Workers' compensation insurance companies are in the business of denying claims whenever they can. Often, these companies will deny injured workers specific benefits or entirely reject their work injury claims because of a lack of documentation or technical errors.
If your claim has been denied, you have a right to a fair hearing where you can try to reverse that decision, and our Wisconsin workers' compensation insurance benefits attorneys at Stafford, Neal & Soule, S.C. can help. Claims are often denied after reports from doctors hired by the insurance company, even if they have never examined you. For a free consultation with an experienced lawyer, contact us today.
Understanding Common Reasons for Claim Denial
There are any number of reasons why your employer's insurance company may have denied your claim. The following are some of the most common justifications that insurers give:
- A doctor chosen by your employer conducted an "independent" medical examination (IME) or review of your medical records without any examination and disagreed with your treating physician's assessment of your condition.
- The insurance company claims to have evidence that your injuries were not work-related or that the symptoms you are experiencing are the result of a pre-existing condition.
- Your employer claims that you did not report your injury to a supervisor quickly enough.
- The insurance company claims that you did not file your claim quickly enough.
Ultimately, many insurance companies deny claims that they ought to approve because they hope that workers will not get legal representation and stand up for their rights.
Madison Workers' Compensation Hearing Lawyers
Under Wisconsin workers' compensation law, you have a right to a fair hearing any time you are denied benefits that you have applied for. There is a special process for these hearings, intended to make sure they are handled quickly without disrupting people's lives.
Based in Madison, our firm represents clients throughout Wisconsin in workers' compensation hearings. If your benefits have been denied, we can file your request for a hearing and make your case for a fair outcome. Don't hesitate to call us at 608-251-6045 or send us an email.
Recent Developments in Wisconsin Law
Lawyers Who Play an Active Role in Advocating for Workers' Rights
Every two years, an organization of representatives appointed by the governor from both labor and management meets to discuss changes to Wisconsin workers' compensation law. This body, the Worker's Compensation Advisory Council, negotiates recommended changes in the law, and the state legislature generally implements the council's recommendations.
At Stafford, Neal & Soule, S.C., we pay close attention to this process. Attorneys John D. Neal and David L. Weir, members of our firm, are regularly called upon to advise the labor representatives on the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council and have played a key role in advocating for the legal rights of injured workers.
Understanding How the Latest Amendments Affect Workers
The most recent amendment to Wisconsin’s workers‘ compensation law went into effect on April 17, 2012. The following are some of the major changes that were implemented in the legislation:
Permanent Partial Disability: The rates used to calculate permanent partial disability were increased for 2012 and 2013 dates of injury, with a current maximum of $322 per week.
Vocational Retraining Benefits: No reduction in compensation for vocational retraining for injured workers who work part time while going to school. In addition, employers liable for the cost of tuition, fees and books for all claims for vocational retraining.
The major provisions of the 2010 amendments to the Wisconsin workers’ compensation law (effective May 1, 2010) were:
- Permanent partial disability: The rates used to calculate permanent partial disability benefits have been increased and will automatically increase again on May 1, 2011.
- Supplemental benefits: These benefits operate like a cost-of-living increase for people on total disability. The rates used to calculate them have been substantially increased.
- Emergency responders: Ambulance drivers, firefighters and other emergency responders are now covered by workers' compensation if they are injured while traveling to their stations in response to emergency calls.
- Burial expenses: The funeral expense benefits paid to the families of workers who have died due to workplace injuries have now been increased.
- Criminal convictions: Workers receiving temporary disability benefits that are convicted of crimes and incarcerated will now have their benefits suspended while they are in jail.
Unfortunately, the legislature did not approve any changes in the Wisconsin workers’ compensation law for 2014. Substantial changes in the law were proposed, including provisions to reign in medical expense cost reimbursement to physicians, as well as providing a long-term solution to the current law's undercompensating injured workers who are permanently and totally disabled by their work injury. The proposed legislation also provided compensation to injured workers who lose their group health insurance while off work for a work-related injury. The legislation was strongly opposed by medical provider groups due to the reduction in compensation to medical providers for treatment of work-related injuries, and did not receive a vote in the legislature.
Our attorneys are dedicated to paying close attention to the latest developments in Madison, Wisconsin, and in courts throughout the state that affect injured workers. For a free consultation to discuss how we can assist you with your case, call us at 608-251-6045 or send us an email.
Wisconsin Workers' Compensation FAQ
- Can I cash the check from the insurance company or am I signing off on my claim?
If you receive payment of benefits from your employer's workers’ compensation insurance carrier (insurer), you may cash the check without fear of losing any legal rights or additional benefits for your claim. A settlement that may affect your rights to make additional claims for workers' compensation benefits may be made only by a compromise agreement. This is a formal document, which must be signed by all parties involved and approved by the Department of Workforce Development. A worker does not compromise his claim by accepting benefits voluntarily paid by the WC insurer.
- Do I have to sign a release for full disclosure of my medical records?
Once you have obtained an attorney, all correspondence between you and the insurer should be conducted through your attorney. It is not uncommon for knowledgeable insurance adjusters to obtain information that seems unimportant to you at first but could be potentially damaging to your case in the future. Please allow your attorney to specifically indicate situations when you may or should correspond directly with the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Keep in mind that by law the insurance company does have the right to review your medical records as part of their defense to your claim.
- What is an IME?
The insurer is entitled by law to conduct a medical examination by a doctor of its choice to render an opinion on your condition. Insurers may call this an "Independent Medical Examination" (IME), but it is really an "Insurer's Medical Examination." The insurer is permitted to send you to an IME at reasonable intervals, and it generally must be the same doctor each time. You are not forming a doctor-patient relationship by attending this examination, so this doctor does not have the right to actually treat you. The insurer must pay for both the examination itself and mileage to get to the examination. If you miss time for work to attend the IME, the insurer should compensate you for the missed time.
- Do I have to return to work within my temporary limitations?
There is a dual responsibility between your employer and yourself to make sure your doctor's temporary limitations are being followed. If your employer offers you a job within the restriction of your doctor, you should try to do the work. If the job, even within the limitations, is too difficult, please make an appointment to see your doctor and get these restrictions adjusted.
- My employer does not have work available within my permanent limitations – what should I do?
If you have an injury resulting in permanent partial disability, permanent restrictions and wage loss, you may be entitled to additional benefits for retraining. If you have an injury to your back, torso or body (body as a whole) that has resulted in permanent partial disability, permanent restrictions and wage loss, contact us to discuss bringing a loss of earning capacity claim. If you believe that you are physically able to do an available job and your employer does not allow you to do this job, please contact us to discuss a possible “unreasonable refusal to rehire” claim.
- The insurance company is investigating my claim – what does this mean?
Remember that the insurer has the right to investigate your claim to formulate a defense. This includes reviewing your medical records and monitoring your medical treatment. Please be aware that the use of video surveillance has been an increasing method for insurers to monitor whether an employee is following their restrictions. If your claim is denied or you feel the insurer is taking too long to make a decision, please contact us to see if we may pursue a claim on your behalf.
- Do I have to allow a rehabilitation nurse, assigned by the insurance company, into my doctor's appointments?
While the insurer is allowed to investigate your claim, you do NOT have to allow anyone else to come into the actual doctor's appointment with you. The insurer may send a representative to talk to your doctor, but you should not allow this person to interfere with your appointment.
- How long do I have to bring a claim in Wisconsin?
We always recommend reporting injuries as soon as they happen in the form of an employer's incident report. In most workers’ compensation cases, claims can be made within 12 years of the date of injury or the last date of a compensation payment, whichever date occurs later in time.