Injured at Work? What To Expect In Court
The determination of whether an injury is work related, or the determination of what benefits an injured worker is entitled to takes place in front of an administrative law judge at the Vermont Department of Labor. In addition to the judge, you and the insurance company (or attorneys representing both parties) will be present in the conference room.
The process itself is nowhere near as dramatic or exciting as the courtroom dramas you’ve seen on television. The testimony is generally very respectful and professional. Frequently, the medical providers will testify by telephone. The administrative judge will make determinations on any evidentiary objections and the entire hearing is generally concluded within one day.
Workers’ Compensation Claims: 3 Things You Should Never Do
First, I recommend that you never swear at or threaten the insurance company or their attorney. I know it seems pretty obvious that you shouldn’t do this, but you would be surprised at the number of people who do. When that happens, it often makes the insurance adjustor or the attorney work even harder to maintain their denial of your claim.
Secondly, do not post photos on Facebook that may be used to incriminate you or to further deny your workers’ compensation claim. I know that Facebook is generally used to keep in touch with friends and family, but insurance companies and their attorneys are frequently looking at injured workers’ Facebook pages to determine if they are engaging in activities that are contrary to medical recommendations or even engaging in work or other types of activities that can be used to further deny your claim.
The third thing you should never do in a workers’ compensation claim is ignore letters or phone calls from either the Vermont Department of Labor or from the insurance company. Ignoring a certified letter does not make the contents of that certified letter disappear, it simply waves your rights to take any action that you may want to per the contents of the certified letter.
Injured at Work? What You Should Do Next
If you’ve been injured at work, there are a few things that you should do immediately. The first thing you should is provide notice to your employer. I recommend that you contact your employer via phone and tell them the circumstances of the injury, then follow up that notice with either an email or some type of handwritten note that you can make a copy of. I think it’s important to keep a copy that you have provided notice to your employer.
The second thing you should do is file something called a Form 5, which simply let’s the Vermont Department of Labor know that you have suffered an injury.. The form can be found on the Vermont Department of Labor’s website. This form begins the workers’ compensation process at the State of Vermont Department of Labor.
The third thing you should do is get documentation from your healthcare provider if you are going to miss work due to the work-related injury. Many times, a claim is denied simply because the injured worker does not have medical evidence that they suffered an injury at work. Everyone may agree you’ve been hurt at work, but the insurance company based in another state who hasn’t had an opportunity to speak with your employer needs some type of written documentation or evidence that you have in fact been hurt at work.
The fourth thing that you should do, is to contact the worker’s compensation carrier directly. It’s perfectly fine to call the worker’s compensation insurance company. They in fact want to talk with you and ask about the circumstances of the injury. You need to provide them with information regarding whether you have children because many injured workers are entitled to an additional benefit in their check if they have children that they support and providing information regarding the injury to the worker’s compensation insurance company can stop a denial before it happens.
The fifth thing I recommend in a worker’s compensation case is to consult with the Vermont Department of Labor or with an attorney prior to signing any forms. Although there are a variety of forms that you do need to fill out in a worker’s compensation claim, it is important to make sure that the information on those forms is correct and accurate. If it’s not correct or if it is inaccurate, the insurance company may use that information at a point in the future to deny your claim or to challenge your request for certain benefits.