Were you or a loved one hurt while on the job in Vermont? You are far from alone. While every employee in our state deserves safe, fair working conditions, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that nearly 7,000 Vermonters are injured on the job each year. When a workplace injury or workplace illness forces you to either miss time or need medical care,, you have the right to workers’ comp benefits.
There are many misconceptions about how Vermont’s workers’ comp laws actually operate. At Larson & Gallivan Law, we are committed to helping hardworking people who were hurt on the job maximize their benefits. In this article, our Vermont workers’ compensation attorney dispels six of the most common myths about work injury claims.
Myth #1: Workers’ Comp Insurance is a Discretionary Benefit that Some Employers Provide
False. Many people are under the mistaken impression that workers’ compensation insurance is a discretionary benefit provided by some employers. However, this is simply not the case. As explained by the Vermont Department of Labor, all employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance to cover any work-related injuries or illnesses their employees might experience. Notably, part-time workers and seasonal employers are still entitled to workers’ comp coverage. Even if the employer has only one employee, they are still required to provide insurance. The mandatory coverage is designed to protect employees—ensuring that the worker receives medical treatment and compensation for lost wages if they are hurt while on the job.
Myth #2: You Can File a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against a Vermont Employer
False. Workers’ compensation insurance is a “grand bargain.: It is no-fault coverage that all employees are entitled to under the law. In exchange, businesses and organizations in Vermont receive some legal protection against personal injury claims. Indeed, when a worker is injured on the job in Vermont, they generally cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer. The reason for this is that the workers’ compensation system is designed to be an exclusive remedy. In other words, it replaces the right to sue an employer for a work-related injury or illness. The primary goal of this system is to provide an efficient and predictable method of dealing with workplace injuries, offering protection for both the employee and the employer.
Note: Injured workers in Vermont always have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit directly against a non-employer third party. These are referred to as third party liability claims. For example, if you were hurt on the job because of the negligence of a contractor, property owner, or equipment manufacturer, you may have a third party liability lawsuit. You can bring both a third party liability claim and a Vermont workers’ compensation claim simultaneously.
Myth #3: An Injured Worker Must Prove Employer Negligence to Get the Maximum Benefits
False. Another all-too-common myth about the Vermont workers’ compensation system is that an injured worker must prove their employer was negligent to receive maximum benefits. This is also untrue. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance system. In most cases, it does not matter who was at fault for the injury. Whether the worker, the employer, or a co-worker was responsible, the injured worker is usually eligible for benefits as long as the injury occurred in the course and scope of their employment. The bottom line: proving negligence is not a requirement to receive benefits.
Myth #4: You Only Have a Workers’ Comp Claim If Hurt On Your Employer’s Premises
False. Another widespread misconception about workers’ compensation in Vermont is that a worker can only file for benefits if they’re injured on their employer’s premises. However, Vermont law states that employees are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for injuries that occur in the course and scope of their employment, regardless of their physical location. Put another way, if an employee is injured while performing work-related duties off-site or while traveling for work, they are still covered by workers’ compensation.
Myth #5: It is Almost Impossible to Get Workers’ Compensation Benefits Approved on Appeal
False. Unfortunately, some workers struggle to get access to the full and proper workers’ comp benefits that they are due under the law. A workers’ comp claim may be denied for a wide range of different reasons—and not all of those reasons are justified. You have the right to file a workers’ comp appeal. Too many people believe it is nearly impossible to have a workers’ compensation claim approved on appeal. However, this is a misinterpretation of the system. While it is true that the process can be complex and requires meticulous attention to detail, many Vermont workers’ comp claims are successfully appealed every year. If you were denied workers’ comp benefits, contact an experienced Vermont workers’ comp appeals lawyer as soon as possible.
Myth #6: My Employer Can’t Fire Me for Being Unable to Work
False. It is a common misperception that someone can’t be fired while on workers compensation, but that is not the case. If you cannot work because of your work injury, your employer can let you go. You are still entitled to workers compensation benefits even after you are terminated.
If you recover within two years of the injury and want to return to work with the same employer, you have the right to be reinstated to the same job or an equivalent position.
Contact Our Vermont Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Today
At Larson & Gallivan Law, our Vermont workers’ compensation lawyers are experienced, reliable advocates for injured workers. Call us at 802-327-8458 or contact us online for your free, completely confidential case review. From our law office in Rutland, we handle workers’ compensation claims and workers’ compensation appeals throughout Vermont, including in Burlington, Colchester, Montpelier, Bennington, and Brattleboro.