Private industry reported nearly three-million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
(BLS) during 2016. The injuries that workers can suffer at the workplace have the potential to leave them with serious health issues, an inability to work, and even long-term disabilities. Fortunately for injured workers, Virginia’s workers’ compensation program entitles them to benefits, regardless of fault.
Many workers’ comp laws
protect workers from unfair treatment when injured on the job. Some employers and insurance companies will try to minimize your claim. Injured workers often do 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
, 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
- Whether you are required to 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 negligence claim. Nevertheless, to minimize the costs of insurance for most companies, many employers and insurance companies want to deny or minimize your claim.
We represent workers who were injured on the job to make sure they 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 workers’ comp fraud, allegations of misconduct, and workers’ comp subrogation and appeals. Contact us to make sure you get the most compensation you deserve.
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How Does Workers’ Compensation Work?
Many people are unclear about the basics of the workers’ compensation program. Fundamentally, it exists to guarantee benefits to people who are injured in on-the-job accidents or develop illnesses related to their work environment. In exchange for this guarantee of benefits, workers are typically unable to sue their employers for job-related illness or injuries. We will discuss some exceptions to this rule later.
The workers’ compensation program requires most employers to maintain workers’ compensation insurance. This means that employers pay a periodic premium in return for coverage, which then pays out to employees when they get sick or injured at work.
While the government regulates workers’ compensation, when you make a workers’ comp claim, you make a claim on a policy that was issued by a private, for-profit company. As a result, that company will do everything it can to minimize the benefits it pays you—or deny your claim altogether.
If you make a workers’ compensation claim, retain an attorney
from the outset. A lawyer can ensure that you file a complete and accurate initial claim, increasing the chances that you will receive the benefits to which you are entitled under the law as soon as possible.
The Process of Making a Workers’ Compensation Claim
While the law requires employers to provide workers’ compensation benefits, that does not make them easy to obtain. In fact, in some cases, insurers intentionally make the system more complicated than necessary to encourage injured workers to give up on trying to get benefits at all.
The most basic steps involved with obtaining workers’ compensation include.
- You are injured in a workplace accident or develop an injury related to your working conditions.
- You are required to notify your employer about your work-related illness or injury within 30 days. If you do not, you may lose your right to obtain workers’ compensation benefits.
- You should file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission within two years of your accident (or knowledge or your work-related injury). Importantly, even if your claims administrator is paying you benefits, you are not covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act unless you have an Award Order from the Commission.
- Employers are required to file a First Report of Injury with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission with 10 days of having knowledge of a serious injury in the course of employment, and 30 days of receiving a report of a minor injury in the course of employment.
- When you seek benefits, you have the right to pursue your claim through a hearing before a workers’ compensation judge. Similarly, employers can dispute a claim made by an employee and request a hearing. Both parties have the right to appeal an adverse ruling to the full commission.
A hearing before a workers’ compensation judge is a formal proceeding where the parties are allowed to present evidence in favor of their positions. The burden of proof typically is upon the worker seeking benefits, so you need evidence that supports your case—including relevant any correspondence from your physician as well as medical reports and records.
What Benefits Are Available Through the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Program?
The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act makes the following benefits available:
- Temporary total or partial wage replacement - If you are temporarily unable to work at all, you are entitled to two-thirds of you regular wage (up to a certain maximum limit). You will not receive benefits for your first seven days of disability unless you are disabled for more than three weeks. You can receive benefits for 500 weeks.
- Lifetime medical benefits - If you are injured in a workplace accident or develop an illness related to your job, workers’ compensation will cover your medical expenses for as long as necessary. These benefits come with some limitations, however. For example, you must choose a physician from a panel of three provided by your employer or your employer’s insurance carrier. In addition, once your treatment has started, you may not change physicians without the approval of your employer or your employer’s insurance company, or after a hearing by the Commission.
- Permanent partial impairment - If you permanently lose the use of a body part like your leg, finger, arm, hand, eye, or ear, you may obtain permanent partial impairment. These benefits, however, do not apply to back injuries, neck injuries, or injuries to the body as a whole. These benefits are available for a specific period of time depending on the percentage of impairment. In addition, you can receive permanent partial impairment benefits while you are working if you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
- Permanent and total disability—If you lost both eyes, legs, arms, feet, hands, or any two in the same accident, you are eligible for lifetime wage benefits. These benefits are also available if you become disabled or paralyzed because of a severe injury to the brain.
Call Emroch & Kilduff Today to Speak with a Richmond, Virginia Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you were injured in a workplace accident
or have developed an occupational illness, Virginia law may entitle you to workers’ compensation benefits. In many cases, these benefits can mean the difference between paying your bills and bankruptcy, so do everything you can to protect your rights and start receiving benefits as soon as you can.
At Emroch & Kilduff, we are committed to representing the rights of injured workers and do everything we can to make sure our clients get every cent they deserve. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call our office today at (804) 358-1568 or contact us online