In Virginia, injured workers have the burden to prove several things before they are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. There are a few common defenses that insurance companies bring up, to which you need to pay special attention. One is the statute of limitations. An injury by accident claim needs to be filed with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission within two years of the date of the accident. Many times, an injured worker is caught unaware because the insurance company voluntarily makes payments for two years, and after two years when their checks stop arriving, they realize that they were supposed to file a claim for benefits with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission and the statute of limitations has run. There is no wiggle room. You can’t keep getting benefits just because you didn’t know that you were supposed to file a claim. Also, if you’re filing for permanent partial disability benefits, it must be filed within three years from the date you were last paid workers’ compensation benefits. Also, if you want to file a change in condition (for example: you’ve gone back to work and now a second surgery is required and you need to go back out of work), you need to file within two years from the date that compensation was last paid pursuant to an Award Order. Here is an example: you were paid pursuant to an Award Order that ended January 1, 2006 and then on January 1, 2007, your doctor took you back out of work for one year; the insurance company paid you voluntarily without an Award Order, then as of January 1, 2008, if you are taken out of work again, you would not get any lost wages because the statute of limitations ran. However, if an Award Order had been entered for the timeframe between January 2007 and January 2008, you would still have until January 2010 before the two-year statute of limitations would be finished. Some of the statutes of limitation can be confusing. The most important thing you need to remember is that every time you get workers’ compensation benefits, you need to make sure that agreements forms are sent to you by the insurance company for your signature and that they are forwarded to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission for entry of an Award Order. This is the best way of protecting yourself from the pitfalls of too much time elapsing and being taken advantage of by the insurance company.
If in doubt, call our office to be certain you are doing everything within the right timelines. 804-755-7755