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Wisconsin has a proud tradition of hard work. Our people don't shy away from tough jobs. Whether they are farmers, loggers, brewers or workers at any other job where calluses and sweat stains are a badge of honor, Wisconsinites are known for their ability to handle demanding work and tough conditions.
Unfortunately, the strength that makes Wisconsin workers so resilient is sometimes their downfall. When they get hurt, people who take pride in a hard day's work sometimes confuse "toughing it out" with "being stubborn," and they don't ask for the workers' comp benefits they've earned. As a result, their health and their families sometimes suffer.
"Why would someone pass on filing for workers' comp benefits after a work injury?"
Some of those who refuse to seek benefits adhere to the old "strong, independent Wisconsinite" mentality. They think that they need to take care of all their problems on their own. Getting workers' comp, they worry, would make it seem like they can't take care of their families or like they need a government handout. Others worry that a claim could affect their employer's ability to remain in business. They think that filing a claim will put their employer in a tough financial spot, and they might lose their job as a result.
Neither of those worries are what happens, though. Choosing to skip workers' comp benefit is like choosing not to get paid. It's not a handout; it's a benefit you earn and your right as a worker. Those who don't request workers' comp are missing out on an essential benefit that is almost as closely associated with Wisconsin as cheese or beer.
Wisconsin has been a leader in workers' comp for more than a century
The workers' comp system is an important part of the fabric of Wisconsin. It has been around for more than 100 years. In fact, Wisconsin's Legislature was one of the first in the nation to create a workers' comp law, and both employers and employees have benefited ever since.
These protections combine with our strong work ethic to make Wisconsin a great place for those who are willing to put their heads down and get to work. To make the most of all that Wisconsin offers you and other hardworking Wisconsinites, you need to understand how workers' comp will help you and your family and how it won't hurt your employer.
"If I ask for workers' comp benefits, will my employer lose money?"
In the vast majority of cases, the answer is no. Employers don't pay workers' comp claims; their insurance companies do. Workers' comp insurance is different from auto or home policies that consumers are used to - the premium won't go up just because someone makes a claim. Workers' comp rates are based on all of the claims filed in the state, not the claims filed by employees of any particular company.
"What if my employer is very small? Will a workers' comp claim hurt the business?"
No. Companies of all sizes are in the same workers' comp pool. Your claim is just one drop in a big lake. On its own, it won't harm even a very small employer.
"Isn't workers' comp just a form of government assistance? I don't want a handout."
Not at all. Workers' comp is a private program. Benefits are covered by premiums paid to companies that are licensed to write policies in the state. So while it is true that the government requires employers to carry workers' comp insurance, it is actually private companies that handle it. Receiving benefits is not the same as getting government assistance.
"Will I lose my job if I file a workers' comp claim?"
It is illegal for employers to fire or punish employees for making a workers' comp claim.
Workers' comp helps both employees AND employers
The workers' comp system actually keeps employers' costs down when it comes to workplace injuries overall. Before it was created, employers could be held financially accountable for workers' injuries. They often had to compensate for medical care, pain and suffering, and even extra damages above the cost of an employee's recovery.
Ultimately, workers' comp saves employers money. Individual liability could cost a business hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars for a single workplace accident. Instead, businesses agree to pay for workers' comp coverage.
Remember that 'tough' doesn't mean 'stubborn'
After a work-related injury, everyone should seek the workers' comp benefits that are available to them in Wisconsin. It's not about being "tough" or depending on someone else for help; it's about getting a benefit you earned through hard work and about making sure you can provide for your family while you recover and do everything you can to get back to work as soon as possible.