Who’s Entitled to Workers’ Compensation?
Every employer in Vermont must provide workers’ compensation for employees who suffer injuries or diseases arising out of and in the course of employment. Most employers do so by buying insurance to pay benefits in the event an employee is injured.
Can I Sue My Employer if My Injury Occurred Because of My Employer’s Negligence?
If your employer has Workers’ Compensation Insurance or is self-insured, the answer to this question is short and simple: no. The Vermont Workers’ Compensation Act takes away a worker’s right to sue his or her employer for negligence so long as the employer insures itself for work-place injures. In its place the Act requires the employer to provide each injured worker with the benefits mandated by the Act, and the worker does not have to show that anyone was at fault in causing his or her injury.
If an employer fails to insure itself for work-place injuries, the answer changes. In that case, the employer loses the protection of the Workers’ Compensation Act against law suits for negligence. It also loses many of its defenses to a negligence claim. The injured worker is then be able to choose whether to sue the employer for negligence or seek benefits under Vermont’s Workers’ Compensation Act.
Can I Get Compensated for Pain and Suffering for My Work Injury?
If your employer has insured itself for work-place injuries, then no. Because Workers’ Compensation is a worker’s only recourse for compensation due to work-place injuries, a worker can only get the benefits provided by the Workers’ Compensation Act. The Act does not provide compensation for pain and suffering.
What Benefits Do I Get from Workers’ Compensation?
There are four major types of benefits an injured worker gets in Vermont from Workers’ Compensation as well as some minor ones. The four main benefits are:
- Medical Benefits
- Temporary Disability Benefits
- Permanent Disability Benefits
- Vocational Rehabilitation
Other benefits include mileage reimbursement for trips to medical appointments. If a worker dies because of a work injury, Workers’ Compensation pays compensation for his or her death.
What if My Case Is Denied?
If your employer or its insurance carrier denies your Workers’ Compensation claim, you have a right to a hearing before the Vermont Department of Labor. A hearing is like a trial in which witnesses testify and evidence is presented. Unless parties can reach a settlement, any dispute arising in the context of a workers’ compensation claim is first decided by the Department of Labor. Vermont also allows either parties the right to appeal for a jury trial if it disagrees with the Department of Labor’s decision.
The Vermont Department of Labor provides good information to both workers and employers about their rights and obligations under the Workers’ Compensation Act.
As with any legal dispute, if your Workers’ Compensation claim has been denied, you should seek legal representation. Jarvis & Modun offers a free consultation to determine if we can represent you in your Workers’ Compensation claim. Call our experienced Vermont Workers’ Compensation lawyers at (802) 540-1030.