With the national unemployment rate hovering above 9%, and no improvement expected any time soon, those who have been injured at work continue to be vulnerable to losing their jobs. If you have lost your job after a work injury, you need to know that Wisconsin worker’s compensation law provides several benefits that may lessen the blow.

If the employer terminates employment after a work injury, it must have “reasonable cause” to do so. If there is no reasonable cause and you file a claim for wrongful termination, the employer may be penalized up to one year’s wages.

Some injuries result in permanent work restrictions such as a weight lifting limit or working part-time. The employer has a duty to provide suitable work available within any physical or mental limitations. If there is work available, but the employer fails to offer it, you may have a wrongful termination claim. In Wisconsin the claim is known as “unreasonable refusal to rehire” under Wisconsin Statutes, section 102.35(3).

If your doctor assigns permanent work restrictions and your employer legitimately has no work for you, you may be entitled to other benefits under Wisconsin worker’s compensation law. You should apply for services through the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). Go to https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dvr/ to find the DVR office that serves your area, or call 800-442-3477. You can work with a counselor to develop an employment plan. That plan may involve academic retraining in another field. The goal of the plan will be to restore your loss of earning capacity. If the DVR sponsors a program and you attend school full time, the worker’s compensation insurance company must pay you two-thirds of your wages, as well as reimbursement for meals while at school and mileage driving to and from school. The DVR may also pay for most or all of the cost of tuition and books.

Going back to school does not work for everyone. Some injured workers need to stay in the labor market in order to maintain access to health insurance and have no time to go to school. For other workers, going back to school is impractical due to age, lack of prior academic success, or many other reasons. In those cases, and where the limitations are due to a spine, torso, head, or mental injury, you may make a claim for loss of earning capacity. A vocational expert is consulted to measure the impact of the injury on the worker’s ability to earn money. The compensation in those cases can be anywhere from several thousand dollars to two-thirds of your wages for life.

If you have lost your job as a result of a work injury, please contact Hawks Quindel to determine what worker’s compensation benefits you are entitled to.

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Daniel Schoshinski
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