When you file a Virginia Workers’ Comp claim, you’re dealing with both your employer and their insurance company. Both of these parties may be a hindrance during the Workers’ Compensation claims process, but the insurance companies are notorious for certain “dirty tricks” they use to reduce or deny your claim.
Filing your claim for Workers’ Compensation in Virginia may start with your employer, but it’s ultimately the insurance company that will approve or deny your compensation. Because they want to settle claims for as little as possible, they will often use these 4 tactics to hinder your injury case.
Voluntarily Paid Benefits
It may sound like a good thing at first; the insurance company voluntarily agrees to pay you some benefits. The problem is that they often do this without your knowledge and never inform you that they are only obligated to pay these benefits during the 2-year statute of limitations if you fail to take action.
If you just accept these automatic benefits, never file your Claim Form and seek an Award order, your payments may stop completely after the 2-year mark. If you do not begin the Workers’ Compensation claims process before the 2-year limit, you may lose out on benefits for injuries not listed on your claim form.
Don’t let an insurance adjuster involved in your Virginia Workers’ Comp claim persuade you to give a recorded statement until you’ve talked to an attorney for Workers’ Compensation in Virginia. You are NOT obligated to give a statement to your employer or the insurance company without consulting your attorney first, and doing so may leave you open to damaging your claim.
Insurance adjusters often try to get a recorded statement within the first 2-3 days of the Workers’ Compensation claims process. This is done to catch you off guard, often while you’re on strong pain medication and not completely focused on the details of the accident. They will interrupt you, lead you into saying damaging things, and pressure you to say something that will make your injuries less substantial or show that the accident was your fault for violating a safety rule.
The moment you file Workers’ Compensation claims, the process begins and your personal life goes under review. It’s not uncommon for an insurance company to hire private investigators to watch your conduct following a serious workplace accident. They say they do this to cut down on fraudulent claims, but the evidence collected could be used to skew or deny legitimate claims.
These private investigators watch the actions of claimants for Virginia Workers’ Comp to see if they’re still working elsewhere, not following their work restrictions or doctors’ orders, or if they are capable of more physical activity than reported in their claim.
Any forms or agreements your insurance adjuster tries to get you to sign should first be reviewed by an attorney for Workers’ Compensation in Virginia. It’s not uncommon for an insurance company to have you sign the agreement form to be submitted to the Virginia Workers’ Comp Commission, yet never submit it to them. This means you are never under an open award and, therefore, may be missing out on benefits.
The other thing they often do is to omit important details in your agreement forms, such as injured body areas. If you sign this agreement without all of your injuries listed, your benefits for Workers’ Compensation in Virginia will cover only what is on the form. This also can occur with wage reports, where they take your employer’s word on what your average weekly wage is, rather than obtaining exact proof of your rightful benefits.
This can be an omission of many important factors such as:
- correct average weekly wages;
- injured body parts or areas;
- medical conditions developed in relation to the accident; and
- accurate reports of how the accident took place.
When these details are omitted or misreported on your agreement forms and you sign them, you may allow the insurance company an out when it comes to paying your full rightful benefits. As soon as your signature hits that paper, they are no longer obligated to pay you anything beyond what the terms of that agreement state.
If you want to protect yourself from the dirty tricks of the insurance companies and give your Virginia Workers’ Comp claim a fighting chance, contact an attorney for Workers’ Compensation in Virginia. Before beginning the Workers’ Compensation claims process, you should involve your attorney so you can avoid being taken advantage of.
When Should You Settle?
Whether your case is contested or uncontested, there may come a time when it is in your best interest to settle your workers’ compensation claim. There are many reasons why you may desire to settle: the risk of litigation, to avoid having to deal with the insurance carrier, the desire to manage your own medical treatment, or the need for a lump sum of money. It’s very important to know that neither you nor the insurance carrier can force the other side to accept a settlement. All settlements must be approved by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission and the Commission will only approve a settlement if it’s in their opinion that it is in the best interest of the employee. It has been said (I have seen it) that injured workers get more money in their lump sum settlements when they hire an attorney as opposed to not hiring an attorney. I would, again, advise consulting with an attorney to see whether you should have an attorney help you evaluate your case and to negotiate a good settlement. When you negotiate a settlement, you are giving up all your rights to future lost wages and future medical benefits, so it is a very serious decision that needs to be looked at from various points of view to make sure that you are making the right decision.
Contact an Attorney Before Starting the Workers’ Compensation Claims Process
When you have difficulties after a work-related injury in Virginia, a Workers’ Comp attorney can bear some of your burden. To get back on your feet, whether it means getting back to work or getting the Workers’ Compensation settlement amounts you deserve, order a copy of our free book, the Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia, and contact an attorney for Workers’ Compensation in Virginia at the Injured Workers Law Firm for a no-cost consultation – 1-877-755-7744.
About the Author: Injured Workers Law Firm
The Injured Workers Law Firm is a Richmond, Virginia based firm solely focused on serving clients with workers' compensation claims in Virginia. If you have questions about your benefits or if you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order our book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” , or call our office today (804) 755-7755.