Brain injuries are some of the most serious injuries we see in Virginia Workers Compensation cases. There are many different types of brain injuries, ranging from concussions to cerebral contusions to seizures and many, many more. If you or a loved one sustained a brain injury at work, it is very important to understand your rights under Virginia Workers Compensation and options for settling your brain injury case.
Dealing with the Insurance Company
First, if you have a brain injury, it is very important that you discuss your case with an experienced workers compensation lawyer. Brain injuries are one of the most expensive cases for insurance companies. They will look for ways to minimize what they pay on your case, which we will discuss below. Having an experienced workers compensation lawyer on your side will help prevent the insurance company from taking advantage of you.
Virginia has a two (2) year statute of limitations for all injuries. This means that if you do not file a claim with the Virginia Workers Compensation within two (2) years of the date of your accident, your rights will not be protected. If the insurance company is paying for your treatment, they can cut off your benefits without any warning if you never filed a claim.
If the insurance company sends you an Agreement Form for your accident, it is extremely important to make sure that the body parts listed are correct. A “head” injury is different from a “brain” injury. If you do not have a Lifetime Medical Award for your brain injury, after two years the insurance company can deny all brain treatment, leaving you without any recourse.
What are my Rights?
If you have a covered brain injury in Virginia, you are entitled to medical treatment for all of your accepted and awarded injuries. Brain injuries can require treatment for the rest of the injured workers life. Often times, the insurance company will try to get out of paying for brain injury medical treatment, whether by not listing the brain injury on agreement forms or by sending the injured worker for an Independent Medical Evaluation (IME). A lawyer can help guide you towards keeping the insurance company responsible for your medical treatment.
Additionally, you may be entitled to lost wages for your brain injury. Virginia typically allows for up to 500 weeks of lost wages for a work accident. However, some injured workers can get a weekly lost wage check for their entire life, known as Permanent Total Disability, if they have a brain injury that is so severe the injured worker is permanently unemployable in gainful employment. It is very difficult for workers to get Permanent Total Disability benefits, and a statute of limitations applies, so be sure to consult with a Virginia Workers Compensation attorney about Permanent Total Disability benefits.
Settlement Value of a Brain Injury Claim
If you have a brain injury, you will want to consider settling your workers compensation case at some point. There are many different factors that can affect what the insurance company is willing to pay to settle a brain injury claim. Remember, every case is different, so speak with one of our Virginia Workers Compensation attorneys to discuss your options for settling your brain injury case.
One important factor affecting the settlement value of a case is what the specific brain injury actually is and what treatment the injured worker will require. If the brain injury persists and the injured worker will require treatment for the rest of their life, the settlement value will for future medical treatment will be higher than a worker who had a concussion that has resolved with no lingering symptoms or problems. Workers compensation settlements are very fact specific, so the medical treatment you need will play a significant role in what your case may settle for.
Additionally, if the insurance company has accepted your case and the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission has entered an award for your brain injury, that will help increase the value of settlement. Having an award means that the insurer is responsible for treatment related to that injury, and they cannot voluntarily stop paying for that treatment without reason. Alternatively, if the insurance company denies your case or you do not have an award, the insurance company is not legally obligated to pay for your treatment and may try to negotiate a lower settlement because of that.
The insurance company’s responsibility for lost wages also plays an important role. First, what you earned before the accident determines what the insurance company must pay you for lost wages, so the more you earned, the higher this value is. Additionally, your work capacity and whether you will ever be able to return to work is equally important. If you qualify for permanent total disability, then the insurance company is looking at paying you beyond the typical 500 weeks of lost wages available to injured workers.
Every case and every settlement is different. Our attorneys can help you settle your case and make sure the insurance company does not take advantage of you.
Call Injured Workers Law Firm Today
Dealing with a work injury is a stressful event. Call- (866) 589-0596 Contact Injured Workers Law Firm today to learn your rights and discuss any workers compensation questions you have.
About the Author: Michele Lewane
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.