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This website is designed to help explain Vermont workers compensation law, which can be complex and confusing. All workers compensation claims follow a specific process and there are detailed rules. In order to make this information more accessible, I've tried to present it in everyday language, as much as possible, with the non-lawyer in mind.
If after reading through this site you still have questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (802) 747-0610. I am happy to answer questions and provide information even if you aren't sure you need or want a lawyer.
The Workers Compensation System
In the legal world, injuries that happen at work are processed differently than all other personal injury cases. With a non-workers compensation injury, you can only bring a claim if someone else is at fault for the injury. In the workers compensation system, any injury that "arises out of" and "in the course of" employment is covered, even if the employer did not do anything wrong to cause the injury.
All employers must have workers compensation insurance (or be self insured). So the system is good for employees in that all work injuries are covered and you don't have to prove the employer was negligent. However, the down side to the system is the amount of compensation that an injured worker will receive is much much less than other personal injury claims. In the workers comp system, there are basically four categories of benefits, and that is all the injured worker gets. An injured worker does not receive any compensation for emotional distress, or pain and suffering, or for how the injury impacts their life.
All workers compensation claims are overseen by the Vermont Department of Labor. The Vermont Department of Labor writes all the Rules and ensures the laws and rules are followed. Most decisions made by the insurance company in any claim must be documented on Department of Labor Forms which the insurance company must submit to the Department of Labor. If there is any dispute between the Claimant (the injured worker) and the Defendant (the insurance company), the Vermont Department of Labor handles the disputes. Disputes are resolved first through an Informal Phone Conference with a "Specialist" at the Vermont Department of Labor. If a party is unhappy after this stage, either party can ask for a Formal Hearing at the Department of Labor. After this stage either party can appeal to the Vermont Superior Court or to the Vermont Supreme Court, depending on whether it is an issue of law or an issue of fact.