When you suffer a work injury, there can be a lot of confusion on what steps need to be taken and, sadly, employers and workers’ compensation insurance companies don’t always give injured workers the guidance they need to file their claim and request their benefits. I have compiled this list of steps for injured workers so they can have some guidance in this process and to help them understand the importance of each step.
- Report the work injury to your employer– you need to report injuries to the employer RIGHT AWAY. By law, you have 30 days to notify the employer that you were injured on the job; however, reporting the work injury sooner is always better than later. If you wait and then you have any other injuries (like a car accident) in between the time of your work injury and the time you report the work injury, it may be very difficult to prove to the insurance company that your current condition is a result of the work injury and not any intervening injuries.
- Report the injury to the insurance carrier – Employers are supposed to report your injury to the insurance company but, sometimes, in an effort to keep their insurance premiums down, they don’t report the injury or they encourage injured workers to handle things on their own. For workers’ compensation claims in Virginia, the insurance company has to approve any medical treatment that you need as a result of your work injury. You need to talk to the insurance company or adjuster to make sure you are seeing an approved medical provider. If the employer gives you the proper information to contact the insurance company – great! If the employer does not provide this or if they are not responding to your request for the workers’ compensation insurance information, you can call the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission at 1-877-664-2566 or (804) 367-8615 to get this information. Just let them know the name of your employer and the date of your work injury and they can look up the who your employer has workers’ compensation insurance coverage through.
- Get medical treatment – The sooner you can see a doctor about your injuries the better. The doctor needs to be the one who says that your current symptoms or condition is a result or the work injury. The doctor is also the ONLY person who can say if you are able to work or if you need work restrictions for your current condition (make sure you get a work status note in writing!).
- File a Claim for Benefits with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission – This is a huge important step in the Virginia workers’ compensation process. In order to have your claim recognized by the State and be legally protected, you need to file the Claim for Benefits form through the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. This needs to be done EVEN IF THE INSURANCE COMPANY IS PAYING FOR YOUR LOST TIME AND MEDICAL CARE. A lot of injured workers don’t realize that they need to do this and fall victim to the 2 year statute of limitations for filing the claim with the Commission. Failure to request your lifetime medical and/or lost wage benefits through the Commission with a Claim for Benefits form within the 2 year statute of limitations can result in an injured worker being FOREVER BARRED from collecting workers’ compensation benefits! Don’t make this costly mistake!
- Call the Injured Workers’ Law Firm – We are advocates for injured workers! We provide helpful information to ALL injured workers and offer guidance with navigating the confusing process of claiming their workers’ compensation benefits. We can help injured workers determine if it would be appropriate to hire an attorney for their situation or if they just need some guidance and helpful information on how to communicate with the workers’ compensation insurance company or how to file paperwork with the Commission. This free information and guidance is at no cost! Even if an injured worker does need an attorney but we are not able to take their case for whatever reason, we can help put them in touch with an attorney who would be suitable for them. We are here to serve ALL injured workers across Virginia.
If you have questions about workers’ compensation 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.