In a series of previous posts, we discussed a new bill proposed by state representative John Spiros, in which dramatic changes are suggested to the Workers’ Comp system. We touched on the bill’s proposed change of employer directed care for injured employees, as well as reducing the statute of limitations on traumatic injuries. In a recent Wisconsin Law Journal article, Wisconsin Association for Justice president, Russ Golla, looked closely at Assembly Bill 501 – the bill written to change many aspects of the 105-year-old Workers’ Comp system.
In the article, “Workers’ Comp Grand Bargain at Risk,” Golla addressed an opinion piece that Spiros released about Assembly Bill 501 earlier this month, saying it is “only half of the story.” “Spiros claims to have looked closely at the system, and ‘introduced legislation to ensure that this system is not abused and the scales of justice remain balanced and impartial.’ His bill does nothing of the sort,” the Wisconsin Association for Justice president said.
The article goes on to discuss the unfairness of employer directed care, and the amount of time an employee has to file an injury claim requesting a hearing. Golla also brings up a critical point where workers are concerned: “The bill will introduce the notion of fault into the system while keeping the limit on damages in place. For example, if an employee were found to be one-third at fault, then that employee’s benefits would be cut accordingly. The disability benefits owed to an employee who is one-third at fault and loses an arm at the shoulder or a leg at the hip would be cut from $161,000 to just over $107,000.”
Wisconsin has a strong reliance on the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council, and the Council has worked to negotiate and improve the system for almost 50 years. The system works to benefit both employees and employers, and as the Wisconsin Law Journal article says, “Wisconsin’s worker’s compensation system is the envy of most states.”
The Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council plans to propose an alternative bill to Assembly Bill 501. This bill will provide “reasonable and common-sense improvements to the workers’ compensation system,” said Russ Golla. “Spiros’ bill is yet another example of lawmakers’ advancing a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist in Wisconsin.”
Please contact us today if you have been injured in the workplace.