Office of Worker's Compensation Hearings
You are entitled to worker's compensation benefits if you are injured on the job or become ill
as a result of the job. You, your employer and the worker's compensation insurance carrier have various
responsibilities relating to a worker's compensation claim.
The worker's compensation program in Wisconsin is managed by the Department of Workforce Development.
You may find information about the program, including coverage, responsibilities and how to file a claim
at the Department's web site.
- Tell your supervisor that you are hurt immediately, even if you think your injury is minor and will heal
without medical attention.
- Obtain any necessary medical attention. This may include first aid, a doctor visit or
an emergency room visit.
- Maintain all relevant medical and payment records for possible future use.
When a claim is denied
If your claim is denied, in full or in part, and you believe that you should receive benefits
(or further benefits), your dispute may be handled through a formal hearing or through an informal
alternative dispute resolution process.
If you have not retained an attorney, your claim will initially follow the informal process. Your
claim will be referred to a specialist in the Division’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Unit.
The ADR staff will review your claim to determine the issues in dispute and assure that the medical
information submitted supports your claim for benefits. If the ADR staff believes that the issues
can be resolved without a formal hearing, you and the insurer will be contacted in an attempt to
resolve your dispute.
If the issues cannot be resolved through the informal alternative dispute process, you may request a
formal hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
Requesting a Hearing
A hearing may be necessary to resolve a disputed claim. Most hearings are set after an employee,
surviving spouse or dependant files an application for hearing (WKC-7). You may order the
Hearing Application form on-line or by calling
(608) 266-1340. Please provide your complete mailing address. Some hearings are also
scheduled on the Division's own motion in situations where there is reason to believe payment
of compensation has not been made.
Hearings are scheduled at various locations throughout the state. The geographical location for
the hearing is determined by the location of the employee's residence, where the injury occurred and
the location of the employee's treating practitioner. After a hearing date is set, all parties are
notified by a written notice. The notice of hearing is usually mailed to the parties eight to
ten weeks in advance, but hearings may be scheduled with as little as ten days' notice.
Any party may be represented by an attorney. However, a party is not required to have an
attorney at a hearing. An attorney representing an injured employee is entitled to fees
up to 20 percent of the amount of compensation in dispute. If there is no additional award,
the attorney is entitled to a 10 percent fee up to a maximum of $250.00. Attorney fees and necessary costs will be deducted from
payments to the employee or the dependants. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will
determine the amount of attorney fees.
If an employee is not represented by an attorney, the Division will schedule a pre-hearing
conference after an application for hearing is filed. The purpose of this conference is
to permit the parties to discuss the claim informally with an ALJ. The ALJ will attempt to
have the parties identify conceded and disputed issues and to encourage the parties to agree
on exhibits which may be introduced at a hearing. At a pre-hearing conference it is often
possible for the parties to come to an agreement that will eliminate the need for a hearing.
A formal hearing will be scheduled at a later date if the parties cannot resolve the case at a
Formal hearings are held with an ALJ. These are semi-judicial proceedings. Witnesses are
sworn in before testifying as in a court room. The parties have a right to present their
own witnesses and cross-examine witnesses presented by other parties. Exhibits of documents
and reports are entered into the formal hearing record. A court reporter records all testimony.
After a hearing, the claim may be paid in full or in part, or the claim may be denied and the application dismissed.
All parties should be aware of the following in preparing for a hearing:
- As soon as possible after the notice of hearing is received contact necessary witnesses
and arrange to have them attend the hearing.
- The Division may not receive evidence about an employee's loss of earning capacity
unless notice of the intention to present this evidence and the name of the expert
witness is given at least 60 days before the hearing.
- Employees must file with the Division and the insurance carrier's attorney certified
medical reports (WKC-16B) and a medical
treatment statement (WKC-3) at least 15 days
before the hearing.
- The employee has the burden to present evidence of facts necessary to establish
compensability of the claim in all cases including those in which the hearing was
scheduled on the Division's own motion.
- Postponement must be submitted in writing to the Division within seven days after the
notice was issued with copies to all other parties.
- Postponements will be approved by the Division because of extraordinary circumstances
and will not be allowed for the convenience of the parties.
- Failure to appear at a hearing as scheduled may result in a dismissal of the
application or a decision by default.
After the Hearing
The ALJ will gather all the facts at the hearing. After the hearing the ALJ will issue an
order (decision) that either allows or denies the claim. If the claim is allowed,
an order will be issued stating the amount of disability and how much compensation
and/or medical expense is to be paid.
Appealing the Order
Any party has the right to appeal an ALJ order. If a party wishes to appeal an order,
a Petition for Commission Review (WKC-28) must be filed within 21 days of the mailing date
of the ALJ order. On this form the appealing party states the points of disagreement with
the order. The Labor Industry Review Commission (LIRC) will review the hearing record.
LIRC can affirm, reverse, modify, or set aside the ALJ order. All parties will receive a copy of the
LIRC decision. Any party may also appeal the LIRC decision to the Circuit Court,
Court of Appeals and, ultimately, the Wisconsin Supreme Court.