What injured worker's need to know before talking with any adjuster for the worker's compensation carrier.
RIGHT TO BE TREATED BY YOUR OWN DOCTOR
If you are injured, you have the right to go to the medical doctor of your choice. You should NOT receive any continued treatment from the medical clinic your employer initially sends you to.
RIGHT TO A SECOND MEDICAL OPINION
If you are not happy with your first choice of doctor, you have the right to obtain a second medical opinion.
RIGHT TO REFUSE THE INVOLVEMENT OF A REHABILITATION NURSE
Your refusal of the rehabilitation nurses services will not jeopardize your entitlement to benefits.
RIGHT TO REFUSE TO PROVIDE A TAPE RECORDED OR WRITTEN STATEMENT
Under the Workers Compensation Act, you are under no obligation to provide a written or recorded statement. We always advise all clients or potential clients not to provide any written/recorded statements to the worker's compensatin carrier because anything you say in these statements will be used against you later on.
RIGHT TO BE REHIRED FOLLOWING A WORK RELATED INJURY
You have the right to be rehired after you have reached your end of healing and your doctor releases you back to work.
RIGHT TO VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION IF NO EMPLOYMENT CAN BE FOUND WITHIN YOUR LIMITATIONS
You are entitled to additional benefits while involved in a retraining program designed by Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.
RIGHT TO INCREASED BENEFITS IF YOUR INJURY WAS CAUSED BY YOUR EMPLOYER'S FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH SAFETY LAWS
If your injury is caused by the failure of your employer to comply with various safety laws, your benefits shall be increased by 15% up to a maximum of $15,000. These types of claims are usually based on an OSHA investigation where the employer is cited for safety violations that caused your injury. This safety violation penalty that can be assessed by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and depending on the nature of the safety violation, the claim may require expert testimony.
RIGHT TO TIMELY PAYMENTS
A failure to make timely payments can result in the delayed payments being increased by 10% This is a penalty that can be assessed by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.
RIGHT TO MAKE A BAD FAITH CLAIM OF WORKERS COMPENSATION CARRIER REFUSES TO PAY BENEFITS WITHOUT REASON
Again, this is a penalty that can be assessed by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. and can be as much as 200% of the compensation due to you. Given the factual nature of these claims, bad faith cases can be difficult to prove.
RIGHT TO MEDICAL MILEAGE
You are entitled to reimbursement for mileage traveled to and from health care providers to receive treatment for a work related injury. Mileage is calculated round-trip from your home to every provider at the current rate of 51 cents per mile [ Effective 7/1/12].
RIGHT TO MAKE A THIRD PARTY CLAIM
You cannot sue your employer under the Workers Compensation Act. However, you can bring an action against anyone other than the employer that may have been at fault and caused your injury. These types of cases are called third-party cases and unlike worker's comp claims, you are entitled to claim pain and suffering and any actual wage loss.
RIGHT TO MAKE A SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY CLAIM WHEN RECEIVING WORKERS COMPENSATION BENEFITS
If you are injured and the injuries keep you off work for at least one year or longer, you are entitled to make a claim for social security disability benefits while still receiving workers compensation benefits. These type of Social Security Disability claims usually seek a closed period of benefits lasting for the entire time you were off work. Given the one year look back period from the date of the application, as well as lengthy review period once you have applied, it is best the apply on the 1 year anniversary of your injury so that your application is not automatically denied because you have not been off work for 1 year. There are also some minimum work requirements prior to your injury that have to be met in order to qualify for benefits as well.
Additional resources provided by the author
If you have access to the internet you can now apply for Social Security Disability benefits on-line.