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Workers’ Compensation in Vermont — It Can Be a Challenging System, but Better Than Many States.

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workers compensation services page.Workers’ compensation is an important safety net for workers who have been injured on the job. Vermont’s workers’ compensation statute is more protective of injured workers than many states. However, in almost every legislative session lobbyists make some effort to restrict the rights and benefits of injured workers.

These efforts have been effective in some states. Among the most drastic reductions in benefits have occurred in Oklahoma and Texas, states that allow employers to “opt out” of workers’ compensation and substitute their own system of compensation and medical care.

An investigation by ProPublica and NPR found the plans almost universally have lower benefits, more restrictions and virtually no independent oversight:

These opt-out plans are why McDonald’s doesn’t cover carpal tunnel syndrome and why Brookdale Senior Living, the nation’s largest chain of assisted living facilities, doesn’t cover most bacterial infections. Why Taco Bell can accompany injured workers to doctors’ appointments and Sears can deny benefits if workers don’t report injuries by the end of their shifts.

Opt-out plans in both Texas and Oklahoma give employers almost complete control over the medical and legal process after workers get injured.

Workers’ comp was founded on the premise that employers owed a duty to injured workers and their families. A series of new laws has cut benefits, given employers and insurers more control over medical care, and made it more difficult for workers to qualify for coverage. But other than Texas and Oklahoma, no state has allowed companies to simply opt out.

At Shoup Evers & Green, we represent injured people in Vermont Workers’ Compensation claims. While Vermont’s workers’ compensation law is more favorable than many states’, it can still be a confusing and challenging system to navigate. If you have questions about your claim, contact us today. There is no charge or obligation for our initial consultations.

For more information on our workers’ compensation page and to search our workers’ compensation case database head to our workers’ compensation services page.

Bad Worker’s Compensation Reforms

Categories: workers' compensation, Workers' Compensation Hearing DecisionAuthor:

You might have heard the recent series which was  broadcast on National Public Radio and published by Pro Publica http://www.propublica.org/article/the-demolition-of-workers-compensation about the many recent changes in state workers’ compensation laws that have reduced benefits to claimants. We are pleased that the Vermont legislature has generally protected workers’ interests in the Vermont Workers’ Compensation Act.

Nationally, however, many states have reduced benefits or introduced procedures that are hostile to injured workers.

The article explains that over the past decade, state after state has been dismantling America’s workers’ comp system with disastrous consequences for many of the hundreds of thousands of people who suffer serious injuries at work each year.

The cutbacks have been so drastic in some places that they virtually guarantee injured workers will plummet into poverty. Workers often battle insurance companies for years to get the surgeries, prescriptions and basic help their doctors recommend.

The changes, often passed under the banner of “reform,” have been pushed by big businesses and insurance companies on the false premise that costs are out of control. Read more →

FAQ: Can I Obtain Workers’ Compensation Benefits Even Though My Employer Did Not Have Workers’ Compensation Coverage?

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Vermont Law requires that all employers provide workers’ compensation benefits to employees injured on the job.  Unfortunately, some employers fail to obtain workers’ compensation insurance.  If that has happened to you, you should speak to a Vermont workers’ compensation lawyer.

Vermont law recognizes the concept of a “statutory employer.”  Injured workers can obtain workers’ compensation benefits from a statutory employer when their own employer fails to provider workers’ compensation benefits.

We see this most commonly in construction accident cases.  We have represented injured workers who were not covered by workers’ compensation because their own employer considered them to be independent contractors.  This misclassification of workers may violate the law. Read more →

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