Vermont’s workers’ compensation (“workers’ comp”) law provides wage replacement, medical, and other benefits to employees who are injured on the job. Workers’ comp is “no fault” – on both sides. An employee who suffers a work-related injury is entitled to benefits even if he or she was partly (or wholly) to blame. By the same token, an employer whose negligence causes a work-related accident cannot be sued for damages; workers’ comp is the employee’s only remedy.
There are many aspects of a workers’ comp claim that can be disputed. Whether the worker is able to return to work, whether his or her injuries are permanent in nature, the type or extent of medical benefits to which he or she is entitled, and even whether the injury itself is one that qualifies for benefits – these are all issues that might be hotly debated between the injured worker and the employer (or more typically, the employer’s workers’ comp insurance carrier).
Vermont law requires that the parties to a disputed workers’ comp claim must first attempt to resolve the case through mediation prior to proceeding to a formal hearing or trial. For mediation to be effective, the mediator must understand the intricacies of Vermont’s law so that he or she can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s position. Doing so will facilitate the parties’ ability to reach a mutually acceptable settlement.
The Vermont Department of Labor maintains a list of approved workers’ comp mediators on its website.Vermont Department of Labor