• WisBusiness

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Michael Gillick: Worker's compensation: It's the little things


By Michael Gillick
When a worker is injured, the financial impact on his or her family is huge. After all, most of us live from paycheck to paycheck, and, even if we have some savings, it is all eaten up very quickly if there is not a steady paycheck coming into the home.

So it is very important that the injured worker receive every benefit he or she has coming while recovering from the injury. Yet very often the worker receives less than he or she deserves. Here is a brief checklist of ways to make sure you are getting all of the benefits due for you worker's compensation claim.

1. Are you receiving the correct amount of temporary disability?

Under the law of worker's compensation in Wisconsin, an injured worker should be paid 2/3 of his or her wages when he or she is off of work for healing. But how do you calculate wages? The law says that there are two ways: the hourly rate times 40 and the average wage over the weeks worked in the last fifty-two weeks before the injury. If you worked overtime during those last fifty-two weeks, the second calculation will be higher, and therefore you should be getting the higher weekly check.

2. Are you being paid all medical expenses?

Wisconsin law requires that all medical expenses be paid. This includes such things as prescriptions and travel expense for medical care. Often the worker pays for his or her own prescriptions and is not reimbursed, and just as often the worker does not receive payment for mileage, simply because he or she does not know that she should be paid for such things. If you were injured but did not receive payment for mileage to and from medical care, you should send a list of your mileage to the insurer and tell them to pay you the mileage right away.

3. Are you back to work but not getting your old hours or wages?

Wisconsin law requires employers to pay an injured worker for wage loss during the healing period. This includes partial wage loss, as for instance if you only went back to work four hours a day or at a lighter job that pays less than your old job. These payments are often overlooked, and you need to ask that those payments be made if it is appropriate in your case.

4. Are you getting the correct amount of permanent disability?

If your injury has left you with permanent disability, there are many, many times when, by some device or other, the insurer pays you less than you deserve. You might not be paid at the correct rate, or you might not be paid the correct percentage of disability. You might also not know of many other benefits available to workers with permanent disability, such as disfigurement payments, or vocational retraining or loss of earning capacity.

In all of these cases, the injured worker misses out on benefits simply because he or she does not know that those benefits should be paid. There is one simple way to solve that problem. If you are injured, call a lawyer experienced in worker's compensation cases. The lawyer will review your case free of charge and let you know what you might be missing. What you don't know in worker's compensation law will hurt you. Call a lawyer and get what you have coming.

-- Gillick is is president of the firm of Gillick, Wicht, Gillick & Graf, a firm concentrating on representing injured workers in worker's compensation, social security disability and related claims. He is currently chair of the Wisconsin Association for Justice Worker's Compensation Committee.

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