How Does Workers’ Compensation Work in Vermont?

Posted by: May 18, 2019Articles & Advice

Do Need Help with a Work Injury?

Getting injured at work can be a frustrating experience.

It makes things worse when the workers’ compensation insurance company denies or undervalues your claim.

That’s where we come in. The team at Sabbeth Law is ready to go to work for you today.

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How Does Workers’ Compensation Work in Vermont?

Every worker in Vermont deserves safe and fair working conditions. Sadly, job-related injuries remain far too common in our region.

If you are injured on the job in Vermont, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for your lost wages and medical expenses.

Sometimes, employers try to capitalize on their workers’ unfamiliarity or ignorance of the workers’ compensation system to avoid paying a fair settlement.

In these cases, or in cases where a person is very seriously injured or permanently disabled, it is important to seek legal assistance from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

At Sabbeth Law, our experienced Vermont workers’ compensation attorneys are committed to helping our clients recover the maximum available financial compensation. To set up a free, fully confidential review of your workers’ compensation claim, please contact our legal team today.

WHO IS COVERED BY VERMONT’S WORKERS’ COMPENSATION PROGRAM

Vermont has a mandatory workers’ compensation program. Under state law, all employers must provide workers’ compensation coverage to all of their employees. If you have a job in Vermont, your company has a legal duty to provide you with workers’ compensation insurance.

It should be noted that independent contractors are not covered by Vermont’s no-fault workers’ compensation.

However, if you suffered a workplace injury and you believe that you are misclassified as an independent contractor, you should contact an experienced Vermont workers’ compensation attorney immediately.

SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR A WORK INJURY

When you are injured at work, you will want to inform your employer of the injury and seek medical attention right away. First and foremost, this is critically important to protect your health and overall well being.

Certainly, severe workplace injuries always require emergency medical attention. Beyond that, even seemingly mild or moderate injuries should be checked out by a doctor. Sometimes an injury is not immediately apparent, and will develop over several hours, days, or even weeks.

If this is the case, inform your employer as soon as you become aware of the injury. Document your injuries carefully. If you fail to seek medical treatment, you will not be able to effectively pursue workers’ compensation benefits.

The bottom line: protect your health and your legal rights by seeing a doctor.

INJURED WORKERS CAN CHOOSE THEIR OWN DOCTOR

Our Woodstock, VT workers’ compensation attorneys often hear from injured workers who are confused about their right to seek medical treatment. In Vermont, you have the right to choose the physician that treats you for workplace injuries.

That being said, an employer may determine that you need to go to a specific selected doctor for your initial appointment. Under Vermont law, an employer may pick a doctor for your first visit, and only your first visit.

Employers cannot force you to stick with that doctor or make you choose them for future treatment. Injured workers can and should select a doctor who they trust to provide high-quality care.

Unless you work part-time, your employer will need to pay you for the time you are off work for medical appointments.

YOU MUST REPORT YOUR WORKPLACE ACCIDENT IMMEDIATELY

Vermont’s workers’ compensation laws put responsibilities on both employers and injured workers. Most notably, injured workers have a duty to report their accident to their employer or their supervisor without unreasonable delay.

You must report your injuries. The failure to report your workplace injuries in a timely manner could prevent you from recovering workers’ compensation benefits. Do not let this happen: If you were hurt on the job in Vermont, notify your supervisor as soon as possible.

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Vermont

Once your employer has been informed of the injury, they have 72 hours to file a claim with their insurance carrier and/or notify the Vermont Department of Labor. Remember to request a copy of all forms filed in your case.

If your employer fails to report your injury, you can do so yourself by submitting a Form 5 Employee’s Notice of Injury and Claim for Compensation to the Department of Labor.

Once a claim is filed, your employer’s insurance company has 21 days to accept or deny your claim. If the insurance company sends you forms to fill out, make sure you complete and return them as soon as possible, or your claim may be denied.

If your claim is approved, you will begin receiving weekly payments for temporary disability benefits. You will also be reimbursed for all medical bills and expenses.

Vermont’s workers’ compensation laws put responsibilities on both employers and injured workers. Most notably, injured workers have a duty to report their accident to their employer or their supervisor without unreasonable delay.

You must report your injuries. The failure to report your workplace injuries in a timely manner could prevent you from recovering workers’ compensation benefits. Do not let this happen: If you were hurt on the job in Vermont, notify your supervisor as soon as possible.

VERMONT WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITS: EXPLAINED

Medical Benefits

As a starting point, injured workers in Vermont are entitled to benefits for all medical treatment that is “reasonable and necessary”. Our state’s workers’ compensation law offers medical benefits for a broad range of different health-related expenses.

Indeed, you can obtain coverage for physical therapy and for any rehabilitative care. Of course, even though the law allows for broad coverage of medical care, disputes still arise over what type of medical care is actually “reasonable” or “necessary”.

If your medical care is not being covered, you need to speak to a Vermont workers’ compensation lawyer immediately. 

Wage Loss (Temporary Disability)

Beyond medical benefits, injured Vermont workers are also entitled to wage replacement benefits for the time that they were forced to miss earning a paycheck.

You will also often hear these benefits referred to as “wage loss benefits”, as “temporary disability benefits”, or as “TTD benefits”. You must miss at least four days to be eligible to recover temporary disability in Vermont.

TTD benefits are tax-free and they are supposed to be paid at two-thirds of an injured worker’s usual wage.

Vocational Rehabilitation

In some cases, injured workers will no longer be able to return to their previous position. For example, a serious back injury could prevent a Vermont worker from going back to their old job that requires extensive physical labor.

In this type of case, an injured worker can seek benefits for “vocational rehabilitation”. In other words, they can receive free job training so that they can effectively move on to a new stage of their career.

Permanent Disability

Some injured workers may face permanent disabilities or permanent impairments as a result of their accidents. Vermont’s workers’ compensation law provides additional financial benefits for these workers.

These benefits may be paid as a lump sum or paid on a periodic basis. There is a schedule for how permanent disability workers’ compensation benefits are calculated.

Calculating permanent disability benefits is a complex process. Sadly, many injured workers struggle to get the full and fair permanent disability benefits that they are owed.

If you or your family member suffered any type of permanent physical disability or permanent physical impairment, you should contact an experienced Woodstock, VT workers’ compensation attorney right away.

Death Benefits

Tragically, deadly workplace accidents still happen in Vermont. If a worker is killed in a job-related accident, Vermont’s workers’ compensation laws provide a path for their spouse and/or their dependent family members to obtain death benefits.

While no amount of compensation could ever make up for the loss of a loved one in a workplace accident, families need justice and the maximum available financial support.

Our compensation Vermont workers’ compensation lawyers have the skills and experience to handle these claims.

Appealing a Denied Workers’ Compensation Claim

If the insurance carrier denies or partially denies your claim, or stops payment of benefits too soon, you can fight these decisions. Insurance companies do not get the final say on your case. The Vermont Department of Labor will set up an “informal conference” between you, the insurance company, and a workers’ compensation specialist.

The specialist will listen to the facts and arguments presented by both parties and make a decision in your case. It is recommended you have a skilled workers’ compensation attorney on your side during this conference.

If either you or the insurance company disagrees with the Department of Labor’s decision, you can request a formal hearing. If you have not already obtained legal representation for your workers’ compensation claim, this would be the time to do so.

You will usually be ordered or encouraged to attend mediation before the formal hearing. If you and the insurance company cannot come to a solution through mediation, the formal hearing will be held at the Vermont Department of Labor, and the hearing officer will issue a final decision in your case.

Once you reach the end of the process and if you still have not been offered the full and fair workers’ compensation benefits that you deserve under the law, you have the right to take your case to court.

If you disagree with the Department of Labor’s decision, you can appeal again to the Vermont Superior Court or the Vermont Supreme Court, depending on the disputed issue.

Get Help From a Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Woodstock, VT

At Sabbeth Law, our Vermont workers’ compensation lawyers are driven by compassion and measured by success. We are committed to helping injured workers recover the maximum available workers’ compensation benefits.

If you were injured on the job and your claim has been denied, contact Sabbeth Law to schedule a free consultation. We are eager to assist you throughout each step of your case and help you recover the compensation to which you are rightfully entitled.

From our office in Woodstock, we represent injured workers throughout Vermont.