Wisconsin workers' compensation

How to Apply for Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation Benefits

All workers’ compensation claims are handled at the state level according to local laws. (Federal workers are one exception, since their workers’ comp claims process is the same everywhere.) If you have a workplace injury or occupational illness in Wisconsin, follow the steps below to apply for benefits. Then, see how the Wisconsin workers’ compensation program changed from 2012 to 2016 in our interactive chart.

How to File Your Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation Claim

Nearly every employer in this state must carry Wisconsin workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Only domestic workers, some farm employees, and volunteers aren’t covered. Federal workers (like postal delivery carriers and VA employees) are covered under the Federal Employers Liability Act. According to the state’s Department of Workforce Development, follow these steps to apply for Wisconsin workers’ compensation benefits:

  1. Report your work-related illness or injury to your employer as soon as possible. You can seek medical treatment first, of course, but you must report the accident within 30 days. Failing to report your injury or illness within two years may disqualify you from successfully claiming any workers’ compensation benefits.
  2. Your supervisor then has seven days to report your workplace injury or illness to your employer’s insurance carrier. Once the insurer knows about your accident, the claims administrator must notify the Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation Division within 14 days.
  3. Keep all medical bills and payment records to submit to your employer’s insurance provider. The insurance company should pay all reasonable treatment bills. If you have to take off more than 3 days of work, then they’ll compensate you for lost wages.
  4. You should get an insurance check within 14 days after filing your claim. This will repay you for any out-of-pocket medical expenses.
  5. If your employer’s insurer denies your claim, apply for a hearing to dispute that decision. If you don’t have an attorney, they’ll refer your case to the Division’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Unit instead.

Every Wisconsin workers’ compensation case is different, so your experience may vary. For more about the Wisconsin workers’ compensation program, contact the WC Division staff directly.

Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation Statistics

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)’ annual statistical report includes data from most state workers’ comp programs. They show all claims filed that year, how many people missed work or changed jobs and individual job sector data. Our chart below shows how the Wisconsin workers’ compensation program changed from 2012 to 2016.

The Wisconsin workers’ compensation program shows some volatility over this five-year period. Total claims filed fell 9% from 2014 to 2015, then rose 5% the very next year. Service-industry workers pretty consistently made up about half the workers’ comp claims filed each year (51%-54%). Employees in that job sector filed 7.3% more claims in 2013 than 2012, then fell 8.2% from 2014 to 2015. Workers who changed jobs or received work restrictions matched the service industry’s trends, except for 2013. Overall, Wisconsin’s mandatory WC coverage means your payments arrive faster compared to most states.

Related: How to Apply for Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Benefits

The Wisconsin workers’ compensation claims process seems fairly standard. But if you have preexisting conditions, you could easily be denied benefits. We recommend talking to a workers’ comp attorney about your case before filing your claim. And if your claim’s denied, an experienced attorney is your best option for winning benefits on appeal. All workers’ comp lawyers work on contingency, so you’ll never pay for legal assistance unless your case wins. In fact, attorneys won’t take you as a client unless they believe you’ll win benefits.

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Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.