Workers’ compensation in Virginia began in 1919 and is a no fault system. Workers’ compensation is considered a compromise between employers and employees. It helps relieve hardship for an injured worker but does not give “full compensation.” Prior to the enactment of the workers’ compensation laws, to receive any type of benefits an employee had to show that the employer was negligent in failing to provide a safe work environment. Needless to say, this usually resulted in lengthy and expensive litigation that caused the employee and his family to suffer. Now, under workers’ compensation, the employee receives benefits (a portion of his lost wages and medical treatment) much faster and for less cost, without ever having to show an employer is negligent. However, as a result of this “compromise,” an employee cannot recover compensation for pain and suffering. The employee gave up the possibility of getting a big financial windfall for immediate medical treatment and a portion of lost wages. On paper, this sounds like a fair compromise. However, what has happened through the years is that the insurance companies and large corporations have lobbied the Virginia State Legislature and have carved away numerous exceptions that usually favor the employer over the employee. Not all accidents that happen at work are covered under workers’ compensation. This means that now, when individuals get hurt at work, they not only have to deal with the financial burden of not working and their health issues, but to get their benefits, they have to fight with the big businesses, big manufacturers, and big insurance companies who spend millions of dollars each year attacking and seeking to change the workers’ compensation laws to benefit themselves and deprive injured individuals of their benefits. Insurance companies love to and are trained to “delay, delay, deny, delay…” This strategy and the workers’ compensation rules favoring employers hurt injured workers even more.
Workers’ compensation is governed by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission – not insurance companies. The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission is a state agency. Everything must go through the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. Filing a claim with the insurance company is not the same as filing a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. Check out their website at www.vwc.state.va.us/ for more information about the commission.