Everyone asks me, “What are my rights?” I typically get this question at least once a week. There are some rights of injured workers that are simple, easy things to understand (like the right to hire an attorney). However, I really don’t like this question because while we all have rights, everyone’s situation is different.
I have compiled a list for those of you who want to know your rights but, remember, these are very general and, in my opinion, it would be much more helpful for you to contact an attorney’s office so you can provide them with some insight into your particular situation.
Injured Workers’ Rights:
- You have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim for injuries or occupational diseases occurring on the job;
- You have the right to legal counsel;
- You have the right to seek medical treatment that is reasonable and necessary to treat the work related injury or illness;
- If you do not agree with the insurance company’s decision about your claim, you have the right to request a hearing before the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission;
- You may have the right to receive workers’ compensation wages for time lost due to an on the job injury or illness; and
- If you have hired an attorney, you have the right to terminate their services at any time.
Here’s the issue – listing your “rights” doesn’t necessarily answer the important questions like “what should I do next” or “who will pay my bills while I’m recovering from surgery?” For example, knowing you have the right to medical care doesn’t really cut it! Did you know you may need to see a specific medical provider depending on your situation? Or, this one is a biggie – you know you have the right to fire your attorney at any time but did you know that if you fire your current attorney, they may be able to put an attorney fee lien on your case for the work they have already done!
Obviously, being an attorney, I am all for people knowing their rights. I think it is part of who we are as Americans! It is good to know your rights BUT, do you know what rules to follow in order to properly exercise those rights?
If you would like more information on your rights or 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.