Workers Compensation Claims After Workplace Accidents in Virginia
Workers injured in Virginia may be able to claim compensation under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act. Unlike a personal injury claim, an employer does not have to be at fault in these claims. However, employers often seek to deny or restrict workers’ compensation claims after workplace accidents in Virginia. You should hire an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in these circumstances.
The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act was enacted to remove litigation from the courts. However, this is not always the case and it often makes sense to hire a workers comp lawyer in Virginia.
What To Do If You Are Injured on the Job in Virginia
Virginia law requires most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover employees who are injured. Workers’ compensation is described by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission as a “tradeoff for both employers and employees.”
The system shields the employer from a civil lawsuit and provides “prompt but limited benefits,” to injured workers.
If you suffer an injury on the job you should:
1. Report your injury immediately to your employer. Failure to report an injury within 30 days can lead to the denial of benefits.
2. File a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission no later than two years after the accident.
In the case of disputes over workers’ compensation payouts, seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Who is Covered by Workers’ Compensation in Virginia?
Virginia law requires employers who regularly employ more than two part-time or full-time employees to carry Virginia workers' compensation coverage. A business that hires subcontractors to perform the same trade, or to fulfill a contract, must include the subcontractor’s employees in determining the total number of employees.
Coverage is mandatory. The commission states there are no waivers or exceptions.
What is an Employee for the Purposes of Virginia Compensation Claims?
All of the following are considered employees, according to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.
· Corporate officers and LLC managers, even when they do not perform regular work or gain a regular salary.
· Family members who work for a business
· Undocumented workers
· Temporary part-time, and seasonal workers
· Workers for non-profits, churches, and charities
What Types of Compensation Are Your Eligible for Under Virginia Workers’ Compensation Laws?
Workers’ compensation covers a number of different types of benefits. They include:
Lifetime Medical Benefits: Workers who are hurt on the job may receive payment for expenses related to their injury or occupational diseases like medical expenses not covered by insurance, prescriptions and transportation costs.
Wage Loss Replacement: Full or partial wage loss replacement for medically authorized disability from work is covered by workers’ compensation.
Permanent Partial Disability: compensation for the loss of the use of a body part, amputation, hearing or vision loss, disease or bodily disfigurement or scarring is available.
Permanent Total Disability: Workers’ comp covers lifetime wage replacement for the loss of legs, feet, arms, eyes, paralysis or disability due to a severe brain injury
Death Benefits: If an accident at work leads to a fatality, surviving spouses, children, or certain other dependents can claim for wage loss replacement benefits and the payment of funeral and transportation expenses
Other Benefits: mileage reimbursement may also be claimed.
Workers’ Compensation Must be in the Course of their Employment
Injured employees must be acting within the course of their employment to qualify for benefits. Although this is a simple phrase, it has resulted in considerable litigation. Some cases are cut and dry. If you are driving to work or have an accident over lunch at the cafeteria, you are not usually in the course of your employment and cannot claim workers’ compensation.
However, employers will sometimes attempt to claim workers were acting outside the course of their employment if they were not focused on their job or not following their job description.
Some workers made successful workers’ compensation claims when taking part in sporting activities organized by their employers. If attendance is mandatory, they are more likely to be successful in making a claim.
Can Workers Claim for Occupational Diseases in Virginia?
It is possible to make a claim for occupational diseases but not all cases are successful. Usually, this is an easy question to answer. Some medical conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome are a result of working conditions. However, they may also have other causes like a fall or a car accident. Exposure to dangerous chemicals or asbestos in the workplace can result in life-threatening conditions. However, an employer may dispute a claim by a worker that his or her illness was linked to the working environment.
Injured and ill workers can file under an injury by accident or an occupational disease theory if the origin is unclear. It often makes sense to hire a lawyer to fight your case.
Did a Doctor Inform you an Occupational Disease was Caused by Your Employment?
People who believe they have a work-related disease must get a doctor to back up their claim. The date of the diagnosis of a work-related disease equates to the date of the accident in an accident injury claim.
Can Contractors Claim Workers’ Compensation in Virginia?
Under Virginia law, independent contractors and subcontractors are not considered employees. This means their accidents or injuries are not covered by workers’ compensation. Proving an employer/employee relationship is not always straightforward.
Contact a Virginia Workers’ Compensation Attorney
At the Smith Law Center, we have worked with workers’ compensation claimants for years. We know many of the tricks used by employers to deny benefits. Please contact us for questions and help about your claim at 757.244.7000.