We help people with workers compensation claims. Below is general information about workers compensation.
Vermont first adopted a workers compensation statute effective April 2, 1915. Prior the adoption of workers compensation laws, employees injured on the job could sue for damages under common law tort theories. Employees would have to prove that an employer acted negligently and this negligent act caused an injury. If successful, an employee winning a verdict could receive compensation for lost income, medical bills, pain and suffering and wages. If not successful, the employee would get nothing. As a matter of public policy, the legislatures of all states have determined that tort litigation between employers and employees is detrimental to commerce and the injured employees. The burden on employees to prove negligence often prevented recovery and employers regularly feared being bankrupted by large awards for compensation. The workers' compensation statute is a compromise of tort law and viewed as a benefit for both employees and employers. Under the workers' compensation statute, Employees get the benefit of limits on employee claims. On the other hand, an employee is relieved from the burden of proving negligence and need only show that he or she was injured while acting within the scope of her or his employment.
Compensation is limited to five main categories (1) Temporary disability payments while the employee recovers from his injury; (2) Payment of medical bills (3) Limited compensation for partial to permanent disability, for loss of bodily function or where an employee is permanently injured and unable to work; and (4) Vocational rehabilitation program designed to get employees back to the workplace if they are unable to perform their prior job due to injury; and, (5) Death benefits. In exchange for guaranteed compensation employers are relieved from the obligation to pay for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. Under workers compensation laws employees may no longer sue their employers under common law tort theories and receive compensation payable under tort law. This limitation does not apply to third parties that cause you injury. An employee who is injured on the job may have rights to sue third parties for the third parties' negligent actions.
The Vermont Department of Labor is charged with overseeing the workers compensation system. Most employers purchase workers compensation insurance. The department oversees approximately 2800 claims a year. Most claims can be administered without the need for an attorney. Issues arise when there are questions about whether an injury is related to a work activity. It could be as simple as addressing whether a traumatic event occurred while someone was acting within the scope of their employment or more complicated medical questions as to whether a physical or mental condition is causally related to a workplace activity. These kinds of questions arise, for example, when an employee aggravates a pre-existing medical condition, there is an insidious set of conditions or other repetitive stress injuries or psychological.
The compensation to which an employee is entitled is based for the most part on a individuals average weekly wage. Average weekly wages presently defined as the average earnings during the 26 weeks prior to the week of injury. This gross income is then reduced to two-thirds to arrive at the average weekly wage. The average weekly wage is the amount paid to the employee while they are unable to work. It is also the figure used to calculate any award for permanent impairment of a bodily function. Disputes also arise regarding the level of a permanent impairment. The rating or level of a permanent impairment is determined by a physician of the insurers' choice or the employees' choice. A physician rates an impairment by reference to the Fifth Edition of the American Medical Association Guide for Permanent Impairment. Physicians can disagree as to the percentage rating for any loss of bodily function. The rating is translated into a whole person impairment and that impairment is multiplied times a fixed number of weeks in order to determine the amount of permanent compensation.
A employee is typically paid temporary total disability during the time he is under medical care and unable to work. If medical care does not lead to a recovery such than an employee may return to work, the temporary total disability is terminated when the employee reaches a maximum medical improvement and permanency rating may then be established and a final payment made to the employee. There are many rules and regulations governing the outcome of these benefits. Many complex questions can arise as the causation between a medical or psychological condition and the workplace event that may have led to that condition. There are many opportunities for disagreement between employers and employees in this complex system of compensation. If you believe you are being treated unfairly in your claim, you may benefit from the assistance of a lawyer. We are here to help, please contact us and we will be glad to meet with you to discuss your claim. There will be no fee for an initial consultation.