Richmond Work Injury Lawyer
If you’ve been seriously injured at work, you need a Virginia work injury lawyer to make sure you get the most compensation and benefits available to you under the law.
If you were seriously injured at work in Richmond, you need a Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer to make sure you get the most compensation and benefits available to you under the law.
Many laws protect workers from unfair treatment when injured on the job. Some employers and insurance companies will minimize your claim. Injured workers may not realize until too late that they did not get the compensation and benefits they deserved.
If you were injured on the job, you deserve to know your rights. Do not hesitate to contact us, or visit one of our offices in Richmond, Petersburg, Tappahannock, or Fredericksburg for a consultation with a work accident and injury lawyer.
We can help you navigate issues that could affect your right to compensation, such as:
- Selecting a doctor and obtaining medical treatment
- Telling you if must give a recorded statement to your employer or the insurance company
- Understanding that you must file your claim within two years
- Knowing when you are required to look for and accept light duty work
Under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, an injured employee doesn’t have to prove anyone was at fault or make a workplace accident claim. To minimize the cost of insurance for most companies, however, many employers and insurance companies want to deny or minimize your claim.
Leading Causes of Workplace Injuries
For the last several decades, American workplaces have gotten safer than ever. According to federal statistics kept by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), worker injuries and illnesses have declined from about 11 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to about three incidents per 100 workers in 2016.
Nevertheless, workplace accidents continue to occur—and at too-high a rate.
Hazards can injure workers in many ways. The most common causes of workplace injuries include:
- Overexertion. Workers can become injured when lifting, pushing, carrying, throwing, holding, or pulling objects. They can also suffer knee injuries when exerting too much while walking, standing, reaching, crawling, bending, or kneeling. Overall, exertion accounted for almost one-third of all workplace injuries; it cost workplaces nearly $20 billion.
- Slip and falls are another major source of injuries. Workers can fall at floor level or sometimes to a lower level. In total, falls account for almost one-quarter of all workplace injuries and about $14 billion in direct costs.
- Tripping but not falling. Workers can wrench their backs and necks when they trip or slip but do not fall. These near-falls account for about 4 percent of workplace injuries and another $2.17 billion in direct costs.
- Struck by objects. Other workers are injured when objects or equipment strike them. These accidents cause about 9 percent of all workplace accidents and $5.3 billion in direct costs. Getting caught in equipment also causes another 3.5 percent of accidents and $2.1 billion in direct costs.
- Repetitive motion injuries. Accidents do not cause all injuries. Instead, repetitive micro-tasks that put incredible strain on the body can injure workers. For example, typing can cause carpel tunnel syndrome. Repetitive motions account for more than 3 percent of all workplace injuries and $1.84 billion in direct costs.
Submitting a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Immediately report any injuries you sustained to your employer. You have only 30 days from the date of the accident or the date your doctor tells you that you have a work-related injury. If you wait too long, you will forfeit your right to any workers’ comp benefits.
You also should file a claim with the state’s Workers’ Compensation Commission within two years. Filing the claim will protect your rights. You can use a form created by the commission to file your claim, and submit it by mail, fax, or in person. Make sure to consult an experienced attorney, who can help you fill it out properly and in a timely manner.
If your employer’s insurance company agrees to provide benefits, you should receive an award agreement, which all parties must sign and submit to the Commission. Always review these agreements with an experienced attorney.
If the insurer denies your claim, you can request a hearing with a deputy commissioner. This critical hearing is your chance to provide medical support for your claim that you suffered a work-related injury that workers’ compensation insurance should cover. And experienced attorney can help provide you with the guidance you need to present a strong case for workers’ compensation.
You typically do not get a chance to submit additional evidence at a later date, so consult an experienced workers’ comp attorney who can help you build the best case possible. Furthermore, your employer and claims administrator will have a lawyer representing them, so the only way to level the playing field is to hire someone with expertise in your corner.
Each side can present its case to the deputy commissioner at a hearing, after which the commissioner will render a decision.
Bringing a Workers’ Compensation Appeal
If the deputy commissioner denies your claim, you have the right to an appeal. Review your written notice of denial for important information about your appellate rights.
In some situations, you might begin the appeal process by filing a request for reconsideration with the deputy commissioner. You will only have 30 days to file the request, so do not delay. A request for reconsideration can help if you believe the deputy commissioner completely overlooked a certain piece of critical evidence.
A request for reconsideration is not always appropriate, and you should discuss with your attorney whether to pursue reconsideration or a request review by the full Workers’ Compensation Commission.
In your request for review, you should alert the full Commission to errors made in the deputy commissioner’s decision. Remember to be as thorough as possible and point out all possible errors—if you forget one, the Commission might consider that you have waived it. You will want an attorney to prepare it to ensure it is complete and legally sufficient.
You can submit a written brief and statement to the Commission, which is where an attorney comes in handy. A written statement should include:
- Overview of the procedural history of your claim
- A summary of the facts
- Case law that supports your argument
- Citations to the hearing transcript to back up your arguments
In many ways, these statements are like legal briefs that lawyers submit all the time to courts. Unfortunately, you cannot typically include new evidence that supports you unless you get permission from the Commission.
The Commission usually makes a decision based on the written submissions, though it sometimes grants oral arguments. Three members will usually hear your case and issue a written decision.
If you disagree with the Commission’s ruling, you can appeal to the Court of Appeals of Virginia. You must file a notice of appeal that contains certain information about you and your case. Per Virginia Code Section 65.2-706, you will only get 30 days from the date of the Commission’s decision to file your notice of appeal.
Each side will submit written briefs to the Court of Appeals. You will need an attorney to ensure that your brief complies with the court rules and also contains your strongest legal arguments for workers’ compensation benefits. Depending on the decision rendered by the Court of Appeals, an appeal to the state’s Supreme Court is possible.
Experienced Richmond Workers’ Compensation Attorneys You Can Believe In
At Emroch & Kilduff, our lawyers have handled countless workers’ compensation cases at every stage, from hearings before the Deputy Commission up through the court system. If you were injured on the job in Richmond and denied fair benefits, contact us right away.
We make sure that workers who are injured on the job get the best treatment and the most compensation available to them by law. We handle issues dealing with the right to recover benefits, allegations of worker’ comp fraud, allegations of misconduct, and workers’ comp subrogation and appeals. Contact us to make sure you get the most you deserve. Please contact us at (804) 358-1568 to request a free consultation.