Five Top Questions About Vermont Workers' Compensation
A work injury is an unpleasant and often traumatic event that most of us are not equipped to deal with, especially if the injury is serious enough to need medical attention or time off work.
Navigating the workers’ compensation process while trying to recover can be challenging but you don’t have to go through it alone. Below we provide answers to five common questions about workers’ compensation.
1. What is workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation is an insurance program that covers employees who suffer a work injury or illness. Your employer is required to provide you with a safe working environment, but accidents and injuries can still happen. If you are injured while doing your job, or your work caused or contributed to your injury, you are entitled to get certain benefits to help you pay your expenses and return to work.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means that it covers most work-related injuries, regardless of how they happen. Some exceptions are injuries suffered during workplace roughhousing or drunkenness. Workers get financial assistance to help them recover from an injury and employers get protection from lawsuits brought by injured workers.
2. Will I get paid while I’m on workers’ compensation?
In Vermont, you will get wage replacement checks if your injury takes you out of work while you recover or if you go back to work with certain restrictions. In addition to wage replacement benefits, there are three other workers’ compensation benefits you may be entitled to: payment for all medical treatment and prescriptions related to the injury; vocational rehabilitation services to help you get back to work; and compensation for any permanent injury suffered. We explain these in more detail at our website.
3. How long do my workers’ compensation benefits last?
Workers’ compensation benefits do not expire or have a set time limit. Payment for medical treatments and prescription medications related to your injury should be for the rest of your life, as long as you do not reinjure the same body part. Unlike with your own health insurance, you should not have to pay any copays, deductibles, or out-of-pocket costs. Even after your case is “closed,” you still have the right to have medical bills paid for all treatment that is reasonable, necessary, and related to your injury. We often help clients who are getting the runaround from the workers’ compensation insurance company on benefits they are entitled to.
4. Can I be fired from my job?
Getting fired is one of the biggest fears people have when they get injured at work. In Vermont it is illegal to fire someone for reporting a work injury or filing a workers’ compensation claim. Some employers do try to intimidate or retaliate against an injured worker and some are just not knowledgeable about the law. Make sure you keep detailed notes about your injury and any conversations or correspondence you have with your employer about it. These will be valuable if you decide to hire an attorney to help you.
5. Do I need to hire a lawyer?
If you have been injured at work, you may have already discovered that the workers’ compensation process can be complex and time consuming. The insurance company may not tell you everything you need to know. It's often recommended that you hire an experienced workers' compensation lawyer to protect yourself. BFS offers free consultations, and our clients only pay us if we get money for them.
A seasoned lawyer can help you by:
- Filing all necessary forms on time
- Gathering evidence to build a strong claim
- Negotiating with the insurance company to get the best possible outcome for you
- Making sure the insurance company pays you all the benefits you are owed
- Making sure you don’t pay out of pocket for things that should be covered by workers’ comp
- Writing a settlement agreement
- Going to trial if you can’t reach a settlement
Consider contacting BFS for a free consultation if any of these situations apply to you:
- Any part of your workers’ compensation claim has been denied for any reason
- You want to understand your rights after a work injury
- It feels like no one is on your side, and you want to make sure you are not being taken advantage of
- You think you may be entitled to additional benefits but you are not sure
- You were treated for a workplace injury but were unable to return to work
- You were treated for a workplace injury and returned to work but do not remember receiving “permanent impairment” benefits (also called “permanency”)
- You were paid permanent impairment and you went back to work, but over the years you have gotten worse, and now you simply cannot do it anymore due to your work injury.
Call us today at 802-455-9141 to find out how we can help you recover and get what you deserve after a work injury.