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

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.

If that has happened to you, there are two options.  First, you can proceed to make a claim against your uninsured employer.  This forces the responsible party to provide benefits.  Unfortunately, few employers have the financial resources to meet the obligation without insurance.

Usually, the more effective strategy is to determine if a statutory employer is required to provide coverage.  The Vermont Department of Labor recently considered this issue in Lavallee v. Straight, Goodrich, DEW Construction and  Rynone Manufacturing (August 27, 2014).  The Commission of Labor decided that an injured employee of an uninsured subcontractor was able to obtain workers’ compensation benefits from the contractor which hired the uninsured subcontractor.  Ultimately, the general contractor could be responsible for injuries to employees of any uninsured subcontractors.

An employer who fails to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for its employees is breaking the law depriving its employees of an important benefit.  If you have been injured on the job and your employer says you are not covered by worker’s compensation, you should speak to a Vermont workers’ compensation lawyer.

Michael Green is a partner in the law firm of Shoup Evers & Green, in Burlington Vt. His practice includes workers’ compensation and personal injury law.