Wyoming's system of workers' compensation is compulsory, meaning that employers are required to provide workers' compensation insurance to their employees. Workers' compensation insurance may be provided through private insurance carriers or self-insurance. Waivers may be permitted to exclude certain employees from coverage, including corporate officers.
Exemptions from coverage may apply to certain employees, including domestic employees and casual labor.
Medical Benefits are provided to employees entitled to workers' compensation benefits, including necessary medical care.
If the employer has an on-site medical care provider, employers may be required to first see that provider. Employees may otherwise select their own treating physician. Employees may change physicians with the approval of the employer or workers' compensation insurer.
Indemnity benefits are payable to injured workers to help make up for lost income. There is a waiting period of 3 days before a worker is eligible for indemnity benefits, but if the worker's disability lasts more than 8 days indemnity benefits become retroactive to the date of the injury.
Benefits available to injured workers include the following:
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are paid to workers who are unable to work due to injury, but who are expected to make full or partial recovery such that they may return to work. Benefits are based upon 2/3 of the injured worker's pre-injury wage or 30% of the statewide average weekly wage, subject to a cap, and continue for up to 24 months. Some injured workers may be eligible to gain an additional twelve months of benefits. Benefits are not paid to employees who are receiving unemployment insurance benefits.
Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
When a worker is not expected to recover from a total disability caused by a work-related injury, and as a result suffers a total loss of earning capacity, the worker becomes eligible for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. In Wyoming PTD benefits are calculated based upon 2/3 of the worker's actual monthly wage, or 92% for low-wage earners, subject to a cap. Benefits are periodically adjusted for inflation. PPD benefits are payable for eighty months, at the end of which time the benefits are classified as extended PTD benefits which must be renewed annually.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)
Once an injured worker has recovered to the maximum possible extent, the worker may be able to return to employment but nonetheless remain partially disabled, and may potentially qualify for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. In Wyoming PPD benefits are determined based on actual wage losses. In order to qualify for PPD, an injured worker's wages must be less than 95% of the worker's pre-injury wage. The calculation of benefits considers a variety of factors about the injured worker, such as age, occupation and education. Injured workers who qualify for PPD may instead opt for vocational training.
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
When a worker suffers an injury that limits his ability to return to work, resulting in a reduction of income as a result of reduced hours or wages, the injured worker may be eligible to receive a benefit based on the difference between the worker's pre-injury earnings and their reduced, post-injury earnings. In Wyoming, TPD benefits are paid based upon 80% of the difference between the injured worker's pre-injury and post-injury wage, subject to a cap. Benefits are ordinarily payable for a maximum of twenty-four months, with the time limit determined in combination with other indemnity benefits received by the injured worker.
For some, more serious injuries, workers' compensation indemnity benefits may be paid according to a statutory schedule, instead of following the standard model of the weekly benefit based on the duration of the disability. Scheduled injuries include such injuries as the amputation of an arm, the loss of a dominant hand, the loss of a leg, the loss of a foot, the loss of an eye, or loss of hearing in an ear.
Coverage may be available for cumulative trauma, disfigurement, mental stress and occupational hearing loss.
When a worker dies as the result of a work-related injury, workers' compensation pays additional benefits, including a burial allowance, and benefits for a surviving spouse and dependents. Survivor benefits are calculated based the amount of the deceased employee's wages relative to the state average monthly wage, subject to a cap in amount and duration. A spouse may apply for an additional benefit based upon need, renewable each year that benefits continue. Benefits may continue for minors until the age of 21, the age of 25 if the dependent is a student, or indefinitely in the event of disability, subject to the cap. Spousal benefits end upon remarriage.
Attorney fees are subject to review by the Attorney General's Office, and are paid in addition to any benefits awarded to the injured worker.
This article provides a quick overview of the benefits available to injured workers, but the full formulas used for assessment of benefits, coordination of different types of benefits, and assessment of injuries and disability ratings can quickly complicate the determination of benefits. Also, states frequently revise their workers' compensation laws. Most workers who suffer a significant injury or wage loss as the result of a workplace injury will benefit from consulting a workers' compensation lawyer.
The state agency responsible for workers' compensation is:
Wyoming Department of Workforce Services
Workers' Compensation Division
1510 East Pershing Boulevard
Cheyenne, WY 82002