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). In this way, the system is designed to be good for employees and employers alike. It protects both parties.
Workers comp insurance covers any and all of an employee's work injuries, and they don't have to prove the employer was negligent. For the employee, the downside to the system is that the amount of compensation that an injured worker will receive is much much less than in other personal injury claims. But this also protects the employer from having to pay out extraordinary sums which could threaten the business's viability.
In the workers comp system, there are four categories of benefits, and that is all the injured worker gets. An injured worker does not receive any compensation for emotional distress, pain and suffering, or for how the injury impacts their life.
All workers compensation claims are overseen by the Vermont Department of Labor. They write all the Rules and ensure they are followed. Most decisions 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, they 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.
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What are Workers Compensation Laws?
The purpose of workers compensation law is to help people who were injured while working to get better and to return to work.
Workers compensation is the body of law that provides benefits to workers who were injured at work. Before workers compensation laws were created, a person injured at work had to file a suit in court and prove that their employer was negligent or had done something wrong to cause the worker’s injuries. This was an expensive process and it could be extremely difficult for the worker to prove that their injuries were caused by the employer being negligent. If the worker won the case, on the other hand, it might be very costly for the employer. Workers compensation laws and the workman’s comp system were created as a balance between providing support to injured workers and limiting the amount of the employer’s liability.
Under workers compensation laws, anytime an employee is injured, they have a workers compensation claim. Employers must have workers compensation insurance to cover the costs of the claims. Once an employee is able to show that their injuries are related to their work and/or work duties, then they are entitled to a limited list of benefits. Those benefits are discussed here.
In Vermont, the worker’s compensation laws are codified at 21 VSA § 601, et seq. and can be found at
this link to the Vermont Statutes.