Navigating Workers’ Compensation in Virginia: 5 Essential Tips When You Don’t Have an Attorney
When you’re facing a workers’ compensation claim in Virginia and don’t have legal representation, it’s essential to be well informed to protect your rights and ensure you receive the benefits you deserve. In this article and video, we’ll delve into the 5 Must-Knows if You Don’t Have a Workers Compensation Attorney:
- File a Claim with the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission
One of the first and most critical steps is to file a claim for benefits with the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission. It doesn’t matter if the insurance company is voluntarily paying you weekly checks or covering your medical expenses; you need them to be legally responsible. The catch here is that if you fail to file a claim, there’s a 2-year statute of limitations, and you could be forever barred from receiving future benefits.
- Look for Employment If You’re Not Under an Award Order and the Doctor has You on Light Duty
If you’re not under an award order and your doctor has put you on light duty, you must actively search for a job. This process is known as “marketing” and it’s crucial to document your efforts diligently. This requirement applies even if you’re still employed by your previous employer or if you’re part of a union. If a doctor states that you can physically perform a job, you must actively seek employment in that field.
- Obtain an “Out of Work” Note After Each Doctor Visit
Each time you visit a doctor, ensure you obtain an “out of work” note. Without this note, you will not receive your weekly compensation check. It’s important to note that you cannot obtain a retroactive out-of-work note. If you realize that you didn’t receive one in the past, you can’t request a note retroactively. You need to leave your doctor’s office with an out-of-work note for your protection.
- Be Prepared for Hearings
Going to a hearing is your chance to convince a judge that you have a legitimate workers’ compensation injury. This is not the time to assume that you can provide medical records or documentation later. Your hearing is a crucial moment, and you must be fully prepared to present your case effectively.
- Be Mindful of the 2-Year Statute of Limitations for Lost Wages
If you’ve been out of work due to a workplace injury and later return to work, it’s a common mistake to assume that workers’ compensation will automatically cover any necessary surgeries or lost wages in the future. However, there’s a 2-year statute of limitations that states they don’t have to pay lost wages pursuant to an award order after two years from the date of your last payment. If you require surgery or extended time off after this period, you may not be compensated for lost wages, even though your medical expenses are covered.
In summary, these are the five Must-Knows if You Don’t Have a Virginia Workers Compensation Attorney and crucial aspects to be aware of when navigating a workers’ compensation claim in Virginia without legal representation. Remember, seeking professional legal advice can greatly enhance your chances of securing the benefits you need and protecting your rights.
For any questions or to schedule a free consultation, please call us at 804-755-7755 or fill out the contact form.
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.