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
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 laws under compensating 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 the 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.