1. You have the 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. This includes any chiropractor, podiatrist, or psychologist licensed to practice in the state of Wisconsin. Frequently, employers recommend that injured workers see the “company doctor” or go to the “company clinic” for treatment. You have the right to refuse treatment by company doctors or clinics.
2. You have the right to a second medical opinion. If you are not happy with your first choice of a doctor, you have the right to obtain a second medical opinion. Technically, you are allowed only one additional choice of doctor. However, an exception can be made by getting a referral or a series of referrals to other healthcare providers for evaluation or treatment.
3. You have the right to refuse the involvement of a rehabilitation nurse. It is increasingly common for insurance carriers to assign a rehabilitation nurse to act as a go-between for the injured worker, treating physician, and insurance carrier. It is strongly recommended that you reject the involvement of a rehabilitation nurse. Refusal will in no way jeopardize your entitlement to benefits.
4. You have the right to refuse to provide a tape recorded or written statement. Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, you are under no obligation to provide a statement. Insurance adjusters are well trained to elicit seemingly harmless but actually damaging information, so watch your language. If a statement is written or recorded it can create permanent problems.
5. You have the right to be rehired following a work-related injury. An employer may be found liable for up to one year’s wages if, without reasonable cause, the employer refuses to rehire you after you sustain a work-related injury when there is suitable employment available within your physical limitations.
6. You have the right to vocational rehabilitation if no employment can be found within your limitations. If you sustain a permanent injury and are unable to return to work with your employer, we recommend that you immediately contact the local office of the DVR (Division of Vocational Rehabilitation). The DVR is a state agency that provides vocational assistance to injured workers. The DVR will design a program to retrain you in a new field that will accommodate your physical limitations and will pay at or near your pre-injury wages. You are entitled to temporary total disability benefits while involved in a retraining program designed by the DVR.
7. You have the 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 any state statute, OSHA regulation, or Administrative Code provision designed to enhance employee safety, your benefits shall be increased by 15%.
8. You have the right to timely payment. The Workers’ Compensation Division expects that in a simple conceded case requiring limited investigation, the injured employee will receive the first payment of compensation no later than 14 days after disability begins. If the employer or its insurance carrier delays in making the first payment without a reasonable excuse, the amount of the delayed payment can be increased by 10%.
9. You have the right to make a bad faith insurance claim if a workers’ compensation carrier refuses to pay benefits without a reason. The Workers’ Compensation Division may penalize an employer or a workers’ compensation insurance carrier if the employer or insurer suspended benefits, terminated benefits, failed to pay benefits, or failed to report an injury because of malice or bad faith. The penalty can be as much as 200% of the compensation owed to you.
10. You have the right to be reimbursed for medical mileage. You are entitled to reimbursement for mileage to and from healthcare providers to receive treatment for a work-related injury.
11. You have the right to make a third-party claim. Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, your employer and co-employees are immune from legal action. The sole obligation of the employer for work-related injuries is for workers’ compensation benefits. However, you can bring a legal action against a third party who has caused or contributed to your injuries. When possible, always consider a third-party action. Third-party actions permit recovery of general damages, which far exceed workers’ compensation benefits. Examples include:
12. You have the right to make a Social Security Disability claim when receiving workers’ compensation benefits. If your disability prevents you from engaging in gainful employment and the disability is expected to continue for one year or longer, you can make a claim for Social Security Disability benefits while still receiving workers’ compensation benefits.