Important Deadlines When Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (VWCC) was created to take care of qualified workers who suffer compensable injuries and diseases in the Commonwealth of Virginia. VWCC has strict procedures on how workers or their attorney may pursue claims of work-related injuries and diseases. While the commission has given directions on how to complete this process, the claim process can seem daunting to a recently injured employee. If you are hurt at work, the last thing on your mind is untangling the rules and instructions the VWCC imposes for you to recover your rights at law. Don’t do this yourself. Let an experienced attorney at Emroch & Kilduff, LLP, perform the filings on your behalf.
When an employee is injured on the job, there are two necessary steps to keep the employee eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
First, the employee must send the employer a written notice containing the specific facts of the work-related injury. This can be done simply by virtue of an incident report your employer may have you sign. The notice must state the employee’s name and address as well as the time, place, nature and cause of the accident. In addition, the notice must state the nature and cause of the injury. This notice must be signed and dated. But don’t rely on your employer to get you the benefits you may be entitled to receive. Get counsel instead.
Next, the employee must file his claim with the VWCC within two years of the injury. This requirement can be tricky, as what you may claim at this point might be used against you at some future point. Don’t rely only on your own judgment here. If the employee does not file his claim within the deadline, he may lose the right to his benefits. Make sure you have an experienced attorney who can guide you through this.
Work-Related Disease Claim
When people think of workers’ compensation claims, they normally think of traumatic physical injuries such as broken bones, damaged connective tissue, brain injury and the like. However, there is another sort of compensable claim that may be brought: an occupational disease claim.
The disease itself must not result from causes outside of employment, nor must it be an ordinary disease of life that is aggravated by a worker’s environment. An example of a claimant with such a compensable disease would be a medical provider who contracts hepatitis through an infected patient. If you have a work-related disease you should have an attorney guide you through the process.
This is tricky! If an employee has a work-related disease, he or she must give written notice to the employer within 60 days of discovery of the disease. The written notice must contain the employee’s name and address as well as the time, place, nature and cause of the disease. The written notice must be signed and dated.
The employee must also file a claim with VWCC within two years of discovery of the disease, or within 5 years of the last time the employee did the work that caused the disease, whichever is sooner. Not doing this may prevent an employee from receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Giving written notice and filing a claim are two separate things. Why risk everything by trying to do everything on your own. Seek legal advice and counsel.
What happens after filing a claim?
Once stricken employees have healed as best as they can, their workers’ compensation claims are usually settled. A settlement typically consists of a lump sum payment to the employee in exchange for foregoing certain rights for future medical treatment that accrue under Virginia’s worker’s compensation rules. An attorney can help an employee get the best settlement.
Before settlement, if the employer disputes any aspect of the employee’s rights under worker’s compensation law, say, that a particular surgery is necessary, the employee may request a hearing in front of the Deputy Commissioner to have the issue decided. Such a hearing generally takes place within 6 weeks of the initial request. The employer will have an attorney present—shouldn’t you? Within two weeks or so after the hearing, the Deputy Commissioner issues a decision. If the employee does not like the decision, he can appeal the Commissioner’s decision to the VWCC within 20 days. The employee can also appeal VWCC’s decisions to the Virginia Court of Appeals within 30 days.
Seek Legal Help
Worker’s compensation claims are important legal matters. Work-related injuries require swift and accurate action to ensure the rules are followed and all of the required documents are submitted on time to the right people.
Our team at Emroch & Kilduff is experienced with a large variety of workers’ compensation claims. Given the strict deadlines associated with the VWCC, don’t wait to contact our team of knowledgeable and friendly attorneys.