The best way to make sure that you receive compensation when you sustain an injury is to promptly report all accidents, even minor injuries, to your employer, as minor injuries can turn into major injuries, on occasion. Also, while there are honest employers who will help employees receive workers’ compensation benefits, these employers seem to be in the minority. Often, even the best employer will sit back and do nothing while insurance companies build a case against their employees. The worst employers will help them.
Always keep in mind the following:
1) Virginia laws requires that all injures be reported within a “reasonable time.” While the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act states that injuries must be reported within 30 days, in reality, if you wait even a day or two to say anything, your employer can, and most likely will, argue that your injury occurred outside of work. This argument seems to be most successful when the injury occurred on Friday but you didn’t tell anyone about it until Monday.
2) Many traumatic lifting, pulling, or pushing injuries begin with mild symptoms and grow progressively worse over several weeks. If the initial injury is not reported immediately, your employer can argue that the injury is pre-existing, cumulative, or that he has no way of verifying your story since it was reported so late.
Even if you end up completely disabled, you may not receive any benefits unless you report the initial injury shortly after it occurred. Don’t just tell your boss or your immediate supervisor about the injury. Tell your co-workers, anyone standing near you when it happens, and anyone standing near you when you report it. Then, even if your boss tries to deny that you told him about your injury, your co-workers can come forward on your behalf to verify that you told them about the accident and that you reported your injury.
3) Virginia law requires that the exact time of injury or onset of pain be pinpointed within a period of seconds. If you tell your boss that you developed pain in your back after lifting boxes for an hour, you will not receive benefits as Virginia does not recognize “cumulative trauma” injuries. If you promptly report a specific accident or onset of pain to your supervisor, it is significantly less likely that a “cumulative trauma” defense will be successful.
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.