Vermont Workers’ Compensation Claim Lawyer
You get hurt at work. You tell your supervisor and get yourself to a doctor. Now what? Workers’ compensation should pay your medical bills and also pay a portion of your wages if you have to miss work for several days for medical treatment or to recover. But how do you go about making a claim for workers’ compensation, and what happens if you run into trouble with your employer or their workers’ comp insurance carrier?
In directing the Labor Commissioner to create the workers’ compensation claim process, the Vermont legislature commanded that the process and procedure shall be “as summary and simple as reasonably may be.” That said, here is a look at the steps to getting your workers’ compensation benefits. If you need help with a claim that is being unreasonably delayed, denied, underpaid or cut short, call Sluka Law for a free consultation and help with workers’ compensation claims in Vermont statewide.
Report the Injury, Get Medical Help
Tell your employer about your injury as soon as possible after it happens. If you don’t need emergency medical attention, tell your employer about the injury, and they may direct you to a doctor. If you have a medical emergency, take whatever steps necessary to get treated and worry about telling your employer afterward. This includes getting a ride to the hospital or calling 9-1-1 for an ambulance if necessary.
When you are at the doctor’s office, let them know the accident happened at work so they can bill workers’ compensation directly instead of sending you any bills. Get a written doctor’s note if your injury will keep you from working.
While the injury should be reported immediately, you have up to six months to file a workers’ compensation claim under Vermont law.
Employer’s First Report of Injury to Vermont Department of Labor
There should be a poster at work or some information about how to report a work injury. Once you make this report, the employer has 72 hours to report the injury to the Department of Labor. If they don’t, you can call the Department and get a form to report the injury yourself.
Insurance Company Investigates Claim
After they receive notice of the injury, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier has 21 days to investigate and decide whether the injury is covered by workers’ comp or not. During this time, a claims adjuster might reach out to you directly for information about the accident and injury and also request access to your medical records.
Claims Paid or Denied
Within 30 days of getting a bill, the insurance company should pay the bill or provide written notice why the bill is contested or denied. This notice should include specific reasons and describe any additional information needed by the insurer. If additional information is requested, the insurer can ask for an additional 30 days to receive this information. Once they get the information, they have 30 days to pay or deny the bill.
Hearing and Award
If compensation is not fixed by agreement, either the employee or employer can apply for a hearing and award with the Department of Labor Commissioner. Mediation is required for certain disputes; for others, the Commissioner decides whether the issues and parties are appropriate for mediation. If mediation is ordered, the parties must attend at least one session before the scheduled hearing.
Within 60 days after the hearing, the Commissioner makes an award supported by findings of fact and applicable law. If the employee wins at the hearing, the findings will include the date on which the employer’s obligation to pay began, and interest will be computed at the statutory rate from that date on the total amount of unpaid compensation.
Within 30 days of an award, either party can appeal the decision to Superior Court for a jury trial or trial before a judge. The court’s jurisdiction is limited to a review of questions of fact or fact and law certified to it by the Labor Commissioner. If no appeal is taken to Superior Court, either party can appeal to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court’s jurisdiction is limited to a review of questions of law certified by the Commissioner.
Call Sluka Law for Help With Your Vermont Workers’ Compensation Claim
At Sluka Law, our goal is to get your claim paid at the earliest possible stage, but we are prepared to take your case as far as it needs to go to be successful. Ultimately, we want you to get the medical treatment you need and have it paid for by your employer, to get appropriate wage replacement benefits for lost time or disability, and to receive any other benefits you need and are entitled to under Vermont workers’ compensation law.
For help with your Vermont workers’ compensation claim, call Sluka Law for a free consultation at 802-457-1000.