No one heads to work in La Crosse expecting to end up getting injured or sick on the job. Unfortunately, for many of the region’s workers, that is what happens. A fall on a Washburn construction site, a mechanical malfunction on an assembly line in the Northeast Industrial Park, or even an accident at a science lab on the University of Wisconsin campus, can leave La Crosse workers struggling with disabilities that impair their incomes and diminish their lives.
Workers’ compensation insurance protects the vast majority of these workers from the worst outcomes when they get hurt or sick in connection with their employment.
Unfortunately, that does not mean they always have an easy time obtaining the workers’ comp benefits they deserve. If you were injured or became ill during the normal scope of your employment in La Crosse, workers’ compensation can provide wage loss benefits and medical treatment.
The Nicolet Law Office S.C. can help you. We represent workers in La Crosse who have gotten hurt or sick in connection with their jobs, fighting to make sure they receive full workers’ compensation benefits and any other payments they deserve for the harm they suffered. Contact us today online or by phone to learn how our experienced La Crosse workers’ compensation lawyers can help you.
We Help Injured La Crosse Workers Like You
Lawyers at The Nicolet Law Office S.C. have successfully represented numerous workers in high-dollar workers’ compensation applications and appeals. Our recent results in workers’ compensation matters include:
- $100,000 for a client who suffered a work-related hip injury;
- $80,000 for a worker impaired by a back injury;
- $70,000 for a client’s work-related knee injury; and
- $50,000 for the effects of a concussion/head injury our client suffered on the job.
We cannot guarantee that every workers’ compensation claim we handle will end in a comparable payment. We can, however, promise that our experienced La Crosse workers’ compensation lawyers will fight to make sure the workers’ compensation insurance carrier treats our clients fairly and pays them what they deserve.
Where Workers Get Hurt in La Crosse
Many of the 50,000+ residents of La Crosse work for institutions or enterprises that have major facilities and operations right here in town. At The Nicolet Law Office S.C., we help workers at some of the city’s largest employers secure the workers’ compensation benefits they deserve after suffering a work-related injury or illness. Among others, we can handle workers’ comp applications and appeals for employees of:
- Gundersen Health System;
- Mayo Clinic Health System;
- The Trane Company;
- County of La Crosse;
- Kwik Trip Inc;
- La Crosse Public Schools;
- APAC Customer Service Inc;
- G. Heileman Brewing Company;
- Company Store; and
- The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
No matter where someone works in La Crosse, our team can help to ensure you receive the workers’ compensation insurance benefits to which you are entitled.
What Is Workers' Compensation?
Workers’ compensation policies cover 97 percent of Wisconsin's 3.3 million workers. Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance policy that most employers in Wisconsin are required to provide for their employees to cover medical expenses and wage loss resulting from an occupational injury or illness. The insurance provided is no fault, meaning that the injured worker does not have to prove that someone else’s negligence caused their injury. All employees who work for an employer who is not a farmer, and who has three or more workers, have immediate coverage from the first day of their employment. You are also likely protected if your employer has fewer than three workers but paid more than $500 in wages in one calendar year. Those who aren’t covered by the workers’ compensation requirement include:
- Federal employees who have a different program that provides coverage for workplace injuries or illnesses. This includes postal workers, Veterans Administration staff, members of the U.S. military, and more.
- Interstate rail workers, dock workers, longshoremen, and seamen, who are also covered by a different type of compensation policy.
- Domestic servants.
- Any individual whose employment is not in the same business, trade, profession, or occupation as the employer.
- Some farm employees.
- Volunteers of non-profit organizations who receive less than $10 a week in monetary payment or other forms of compensation.
- Employees of Native American tribal enterprises, such as casinos.
All states have a workers’ compensation program. However, the provisions of these programs can vary as well as the definitions of terms such as “workplace injury.” In Wisconsin, a workplace injury includes:
- Workplace injuries that were caused at the place of business during the normal scope of your employment. Common examples of this type of injury include an injury caused by lifting a heavy object, overexertion, being struck by a falling object, or slip/ trip and fall accidents.
- Injuries that occur on the workplace property as the individual arrives at or leaves work, such as a transportation accident that occurs in the company parking lot.
- Injuries that occur while the individual is attending to personal needs during work and on company property. This would include injuries that occur while the employee is smoking, eating, or using the lavatory. It does not include injuries that occur while the individual is off company property, such as when they are running errands during their lunch break.
- Injuries that occur while the employee is working but not on company property. For coverage, the injuries must have occurred when the employee was under the employer’s direction and control.
- Injuries that occur during horseplay, are incurred during a physical fight at the workplace, or that are self-inflicted.
Wisconsin’s Workers’ Compensation Act covers:
- Physical harm or injury, including bruises, cuts, broken bones, sprains, strains, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, sudden loss of vision, or disfigurement.
- Mental harm, including nervous disorders, hysteria, and traumatic neurosis. Often these conditions are combined with physical injury. However, if you plan to file a claim based solely on mental harm, you must prove that the situation that caused your mental harm was far greater than the normal day-to-day stresses of employment.
- Accidental injury, which is a sudden injury or emotional trauma that resulted from a workplace activity.
- Occupational disease, which is an illness that resulted from exposure to an employment-related substance, condition, or activity. In addition to illness, this category of covered injuries also includes hearing loss or a deteriorated bodily function.
The Benefits Available in La Crosse Through Workers' Compensation
The bulk of Wisconsin’s workers’ compensation coverage is provided to compensate injured or ill workers for wage loss, as well as to provide medical treatment. Here is a closer look at each of these benefits.
Wisconsin provides weekly wage loss benefits during the time you are too injured to work or are required to miss work to attend an injury-related medical appointment. These benefits are provided for:
- Temporary total disability: Workers’ comp claims may begin here, before a determination on the permanence of the disability. Temporary total disability means that the person can’t work at all, but doctors believe the condition is temporary. For temporary disability, there are no wage loss benefits if you only miss three days of work or less. However, if the injury results in wage loss for more than seven days, all the days in which work was missed are counted and compensated. Temporary total disability provides two-thirds of the injured worker’s average weekly wage, subject to a maximum amount that is specified by law. Temporary total disability benefit payments will continue until either medical improvement has been made and the employee can physically handle the duties of his or her job, the employer can find different job tasks that the employee can do, or the determination is made that the employee has made his or her maximum medical improvement and is still disabled.
- Temporary partial disability: These benefits are paid when the employee’s injury allows for limited hours, light duty, or a lesser-paying position that features activities that are within the individual’s ability. These benefits vary, as the employee will receive a percentage of whatever his or her wage loss was compared to what he or she made before the injury.
- Permanent partial disability: This level of wage loss replacement occurs when the person is, to some degree of medical certainty, permanently disabled and yet still perform lighter or lesser-paying job tasks for his or her employer. The determination of the amount of compensation that will be received as well as the duration of these weekly wage loss benefits is calculated according to a schedule of losses that dictates a certain number of weeks of benefits for different types of injuries.
- Permanent total disability: This designation results from an illness or injury that leaves an individual totally disabled and, within a reasonable degree of medical certainty, is permanent. This will result in lifetime weekly wage loss payments equaling two-thirds of the individual’s average weekly wage before the injury occurred.
Injured or ill workers in Wisconsin who file a workers’ compensation claim and are approved for benefits are entitled to 100 percent coverage of all medical expenses required to treat the injury or illness, including hospitalization, diagnostic tests, labs, physician and surgical services, physical therapy and rehabilitation, prescription medication, the provision of mobility devices such as wheelchairs or crutches, and the time and expense of traveling for medical treatments.
The Process of Obtaining Workers' Compensation Benefits in La Crosse
To obtain workers’ compensation benefits:
- Inform your employer immediately if you are injured, even if you believe your injury will heal on its own without medical treatment. You can provide this information either verbally or in writing, and the information should include: your name, the date, the type of injury you have suffered and which body part it involved, the circumstances of the injury or illness, and whether you needed medical treatment. This information must be given within 30 days of the onset of the injury or illness, at the latest.
- Seek any necessary medical treatment from the doctor of your choosing, and be sure to retain any documents you receive during your visit for future reference. In Wisconsin, your employer must give you the right to choose the first doctor you see. If you are dissatisfied with the care you received from that doctor, you are allowed a second choice for treatment. It is important to always inform your employer if you intend to change doctors, as failing to provide this notification can result in a disruption to your benefits.
- Once your employer has received a report of your injury or illness, he or she must notify the insurance carrier who holds the policy. Once the carrier has reviewed your claim and approved you for coverage, you should begin receiving your benefits within 14 days.
- Once your claim has been opened, it will remain open for six years from the date of injury or the last payment to you. Some claims can remain open even longer, so you are encouraged to retain copies of all injury-related documents for at least 12 years.
Frequently Asked Questions About La Crosse Workers' Compensation
While the process seems simple, it is not unusual to become overwhelmed, confused, or frustrated when attempting to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. Here are answers to some of the questions we hear most often from our La Crosse clients about worker’s compensation.
What happens if I suffer a workplace injury in La Crosse and my employer doesn't carry workers' compensation?
In many states, if your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance but must carry it, you may file a claim against your employer to obtain compensation. However, Wisconsin has a program called the Uninsured Employers Fund (UEF) that provides coverage to injured but uninsured workers. The fund is maintained through penalties that have been assessed against companies in the state who fail to provide their workers with workers’ comp. To access coverage of your medical and wage loss expenses through the UEF, you must file an application with supporting documentation. If we take your case, we can do this for you.
I was injured while commuting to work. Can I file a La Crosse workers' comp claim?
Generally, you cannot claim that an injury that occurred in a transportation accident on your way to work is a workplace injury. There are some very limited exceptions, including if you were on company property but not yet inside the building when the accident occurred. However, if you are injured in a transportation accident that was caused by someone else’s reckless or careless actions, you can pursue compensation for medical and other expenses, wage loss, and quality-of-life impacts through a lawsuit. An attorney from Nicolet Law Office can explain this process to you.
Does La Crosse workers' compensation provide a death benefit?
Yes. The workers’ compensation program will provide a death benefit to surviving family members if a worker dies as the result of an occupational injury or illness. The family members who are eligible to claim this benefit include the surviving spouse or children. If the deceased worker did not have a spouse or children, then other family members can claim the benefits, including parents, siblings, a divorced spouse who has not remarried, or any other blood or adopted relative. The maximum amount of the death benefit that is allowed in Wisconsin is four times the deceased worker’s average annual wages at the time of the injury, up to a ceiling amount established by the state that changes from year to year. Workers’ comp also provides a funeral and burial benefit of $10,000.
I am afraid my boss will fire me for filing a La Crosse workers' compensation claim. Can this happen?
It is against federal and state laws for an employer to terminate you or otherwise retaliate against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. If you have reason to fear that this is going to happen, or it does happen, you should speak with an experienced La Crosse workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.
Are workers' compensation benefits taxable in La Crosse?
As a general rule, the workers’ comp benefits that an injured or ill worker receives are not taxable at either the state or federal level. However, there is an exception involving individuals receiving assistance from multiple programs. For example, if you are collecting workers’ comp and also are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, the combination of the two benefits could push your income over certain income thresholds that would cause taxes to be owed on a portion of the benefits you receive.
Do I need an attorney to help me with my La Crosse workers' comp claim?
Yes. Having an attorney assures that you have someone with experience fighting complicated workers’ comp cases on your side. At the application stage, it decreases the chance that workers’ compensation will wrongfully delay or deny your claim or reduce your benefits to less than you deserve. At the appeal stage, it increases the chance of overturning a wrongful denial or reduction in benefits. Our experienced La Crosse workers’ compensation lawyers can assist you with filing a claim, appealing a decision, and other issues related to obtaining this benefit. Contact us online or by calling 608-527-0876 for a free consultation.