The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission is divided into 4 divisions that have different functions. Read on to learn how this process works.
Deputy Commissioner – (Division 1)
If any part of your claim has been contested (for example, if the insurance carrier refuses to cover your medical care or pay your lost wages) a hearing can be held before a Deputy Commissioner for a ruling to be made. There can be two different types of hearings before a Deputy Commissioner. An On-the-Record hearing is a type of informal hearing where the Deputy Commissioner can review the documentation submitted along with any written statements in order to make a decision. The Deputy Commissioner will then issue an Opinion with their findings. This informal examination is not what most folks envision when they think of a hearing but this process can lead to a faster conclusion to the claim for injured workers.
The second type of hearing is an evidentiary hearing. The evidentiary hearing is a formal court hearing where evidence is presented (called Exhibits) and witnesses give testimony under oath. Once the Deputy Commissioner reviews this information, he or she will render their decision (called an Opinion) and all parties will be notified by mail.
If either party is unsatisfied with the outcome of the hearing, they have the right to appeal (called a Request for Review) the decision to the Full Commission.
Full Commission – (Division 2)
A request for an appeal (called a Request for Review) must be filed within 30 days of the Deputy Commissioner’s Opinion (30 days from the date of the written Opinion) and must be sent via Certified Mail. Once the Commission has received the Request for Review, all parties are given a schedule of deadlines for filing their responsive written statements; no further testimony or evidence may be presented. The Commission may or may not require an oral argument. If an oral argument is required, all parties are notified of the date and time to present their arguments. However, if an oral argument is not required, the Commission will issue their opinion after the written statements are received and all parties are notified of the decision by mail (called an Opinion).
If either party is unsatisfied with the outcome of the Full Commission Review, they have the right to appeal it to the Court of Appeals of Virginia.
Court of Appeals of Virginia – (Division 3)
An appeal can be filed with the Court of Appeals of Virginia within 30 days of the Full Commission Opinion (called a written Notice of Appeal) and must be filed with a $500 appeal bond. A Notice to the Clerk of the Court of Appeals must be filed along with the written Notice of Appeal and this document will also require a $50 filing fee and all documents and fees should be sent via Certified Mail (this is so you can show that your documents and fees were received within the proper time frame).
If either party is unsatisfied with the decision by the Court of Appeals of Virginia, they have the right to appeal the case to the Supreme Court of Virginia.
Supreme Court of Virginia – (Division 4)
Either party can request that their case be heard by the Supreme Court of Virginia, however, they hear cases only at the court’s discretion.
If you have questions about your benefits or if you would like more information on the Virginia workers’ compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” or call our office today (804) 755-7755.