There are several steps you can take to protect yourself and your benefits after a workplace accident:
In Virginia, the rule is that you need to report any workplace injuries to your employer within 30 days of the incident. I always recommend to folks they should notify their employer as soon as possible so that they can immediately seek any necessary medical care and have their injury properly documented.
How do I BEST protect myself if I get hurt on the job?
The short answer is to get an Award Order.
How do I get an Award Order?
To get an Award Order issued through the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission, you need to file a Claim for Benefits form. This form is available through the Commission’s website at https://workcomp.virginia.gov/forms/claim-form, or you can contact my office and we will happily provide you with a form at no cost.
How do I Complete the Claim for Benefits?
To complete the Claim for Benefits Form, you will need to have several bits of information – Let’s start at the top of the form and work our way down.
At the very top of the form, you will see a space for a “Jurisdiction Claim Number” (JCN) and a “Claim Administrator Number”. If you don’t have these numbers yet, don’t worry about this, the Commission and the workers compensation insurance company can assign these numbers as your claim progresses.
The next section you will see is “Injured Workers Information”. You will need to list your address and phone number under this section. Make sure you use your current residential address here and not a PO Box or address where you do not reside. You will also need to list your Gross Weekly Earning (what you earn before any payroll deductions – like taxes, 401K, health insurance, or union dues).
To the right of “Injured Workers Information”, you will see a section for “Employer Information”. This is where you will list the name of the company you work for and their address and phone number.
The middle section is labeled “Injury”. This is where you explain on the form the date of the accident, where the accident happened, how it happened and what parts of your body were affected. This section of the form is curtailed so read carefully! You need to make sure that you know the date of the injury (if you can’t recall, you may need to refer to any accident reports or medical records you have to confirm this)
Under “Body Parts Injured”, you MUST list ALL the body parts injured specifically. A shoulder is not an arm. A neck is not a shoulder. A head injury is not a brain injury. If you do not list the body part specifically, then the insurance company will not have to provide medical treatment for that body part. Overkill is best. Even if the body part doesn’t need medical treatment currently, if it was injured during the accident, list it.
“How Injury Occurred” is also a very important section on this form, not all injuries that happen at work are covered under current Virginia Law so how you describe the injury is key.
For Example: “moving boxes and hurt my shoulder” is not nearly the same thing as “I was moving a heavy box off of a shelf and felt a pop in my left shoulder” OR “I fell” is not nearly the same as “I slipped and fell on water that was spilled on the floor and landed on my right knee”.
The next section is “Request for Benefits”
Click HERE to go to How to Protect Yourself After a Virginia Work Injury – Part 2 to see more information on this.
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.