If you were injured in the course of your employment in Wisconsin, you may be entitled to compensation under worker’s compensation laws for your medical bills, prescription medications, parts of your lost wages, and other expenses related to your injury. Under certain circumstances, you may also be able to recover damages from the responsible party under Wisconsin’s personal injury laws.
It is not always initially clear what your recovery options may be. A skilled attorney who works with both worker’s compensation and personal injury cases can evaluate your case to help you determine – and pursue – your legal rights.
Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation Law Limits Recovery for Many Work-Related Injuries
Most employers in Wisconsin are covered under the state’s worker’s compensation system. The laws were designed to offer a safety net to injured workers by ensuring that they would be able to get medical treatment and compensation for a work injury without having to initiate a lawsuit against their employer, regardless of whose fault the injury may have been. That means that an injured worker should be able to count on their employer’s worker’s compensation insurance to pay for expenses related to the injury, even if the worker was partially or wholly responsible for causing their own injuries.
This coverage is important, helping to reduce the risk that an injured worker and his or her family will suffer financially after a work injury. However, the law places limitations on injured workers’ rights to recover damages beyond those that are directly provided for under the worker’s compensation law. Worker’s compensation only pays for two-thirds of your average weekly wages while the treatment for the injury takes you out of work, not your full wages; it only pays for medical expenses so long as the medical providers relate them to your injury, not when you are trying to ‘avoid a work injury claim’ for your boss; it only pays for permanent functional losses of a body part, not the pain and suffering of that injury, or for any of the losses incurred by your family in having to care for you and the effect and toll that that injury has on your relationships and daily life. In short, worker’s compensation only provides limited remedies for your injuries.
Personal Injury Laws Allow Injured Workers to Pursue Compensation in Some Cases
There are certain situations under which workers injured on the job may be entitled to pursue compensation for more, such as pain and suffering, even when Wisconsin’s worker’s compensation law applies to their cases. If it can be proven that a third party, i.e. any party other than you or your employer, was responsible for the accident that caused the injury, you may have the right to recover under personal injury laws.
These are called “third-party liability claims” and are often complex, requiring the injured worker to show through evidence that a third party owed the injured person some duty of care or had a certain safety standard to meet that applied to the injured worker, that the third party either carelessly or intentionally failed to meet that duty or standard, and that the worker’s injuries were a direct result of that failure. The injured worker must also prove what harm he or she suffered as a result. If successful in proving their case, the injured party may recover damages above and beyond worker’s compensation for pain and suffering.
Unsure of Your Options? The Attorneys at Schott, Bublitz & Engel can Help!
After a work-related injury occurs, it is important to understand the scope of your legal rights and options under Wisconsin law. If you make the assumption that worker’s compensation is your only recovery option, you could be short-changing yourself and missing out on the opportunity to hold the responsible party accountable for the negligence or carelessness that led to your injury.
Talking to one of the experienced worker’s compensation and personal injury attorneys at Schott, Bublitz & Engel in Waukesha can give you the information you need to make an informed decision about how to proceed. Contact us online or call us at 262.827.1700 today to schedule an initial consultation.
Schott, Bublitz & Engel s.c. has been meeting the legal needs of clients in Wisconsin for over 26 years. As the firm’s reputation has grown, so has the extent of our legal expertise.