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.