Understanding the basics of Wyoming Workers' Compensation
In Wyoming, workers compensation is a no-fault government run program designed to provide medical and financial assistance to injured workers. Suffering a work-related injury is hard on individuals and families. Workers’ compensation benefits are not a true wage substitute as they cover only a percentage of lost wages. Still, being denied workers comp benefits can result in prolonged infirmity or financial ruin.
If you have been injured on the job, you must inform your employer within 48 hours and the Division of Workers' Compensation within 10 days. The Division will then provide you with a case number that you must provide to your medical providers. Unlike many States, Wyoming workers' compensation does not preapprove payment of most medical procedures. You must have recommended treatment and have the provider submit invoices for payment. The Division caseworker will then review the medical records to see if the procedure is reasonable and necessary. If the caseworker determines the treatment is reasonable and necessary, which occurs most of the time, the treatment will be paid for at set workers' compensation rates. If the treatment is determined to be unreasonable or unnecessary, the Division will send you a final determination advising you of this. You must then request a hearing on the matter within 20 days of the issuance of the Final Determination. Failure to do so will result in your being responsible for payment for the treatment.
You must also make application for Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits if your injury is such that you cannot return to work. You will need to have a doctor certify that your cannot return to work every 60 days.
At some point in your treatment, you will reach Maximum Medical Improvement. This means that you are now as good as you can get and there is nothing more the doctors can do to improve your functionability. At this point you will be referred or an Impairment rating. Once you have received a Final Determination regarding an Impairment Rating from the Division, this document will inform you of the rating you received and the benefits you are entitle to. You will also receive a form asking if you wish for a second opinion. We always recommend requesting a second opinion as workers’ compensation will accept whichever rate is highest.
You will also receive a letter from the Division telling you that you no longer qualify for TTD benefits. This is because you are no longer temporarily disabled. You are either better, or have a permanent disability. If you have a permanent disability you may quailify for additional benefits such as 1) wage loss, or Permanent Partial Disability beneifts, if you cannot return to work and make at least 95% of your pre-injury wage, 2) Vocational Rehabilitaion, which includes retraining and stipend for cost of living, or 3) Permanent Total Disability, if you cannot return to any form of gainful employment due to your work injury.
If you do not believe you are at MMI or Maximum Medical Improvement, you must disagree with this Final Determination and request a hearing.
Wyoming workers’ compensation can be a confusing and intimidating process. This article is a very brief overview of the benefits available in Wyoming for injured workers. If you have questions that your caseworker cannot answer to your satisfaction, you should consult with a workers’ compensation attorney.
If you have questions, contact us at Plains Law Offices.
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