Workers’ compensation is a type of employer insurance that covers employees who sustain work related injuries or illnesses. Worker’s compensation laws differ for each state. In Virginia, the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act is the governing statute for the state. Under the Act, most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees.
When a worker is injured while on the job, he or she should immediately report the injury to their employer and file a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. The claim must be filed within two years after the accident occurs or the diagnosis of a work-related illness or disease (unless otherwise stated in the statute of limitations).
Employees who are eligible for filing for workers’ compensation meet at least one of these definitions:
- Full-time workers
- They are LLC managers or corporate officers even if they are not earning a regular salary or performing regular work
- Family members performing work for the company
- Part-time, seasonal, and temporary workers
- Workers performing work for non-profits, charities, and churches
In employee situations where the employee status is unclear, the work relationship facts are examined using the following criteria:
- Who is in control of the manner in which the work is performed?
- Can the person doing the work be hired?
- Can the person doing the work be fired?
- Is the person paid wages for the work they performed?
The employee relationship is determined once the employer control is established.
The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act covers workers with the following benefits:
- Lifetime Medical Benefits – Payment (including out of pocket reimbursement) for medical care, hospitalization, medical diagnostic tests, prescriptions, and transportation expenses related to injury or illness sustained while on the job.
- Wage Loss Replacement – (Temporary Total or Temporary Partial Disability) – Replacement for lost wages, full or partial, for a person who is medically authorized to miss work due to disability.
- Permanent Partial Disability – Compensation for partial disability including, amputation, loss of a body part, loss of vision or hearing, bodily disfigurement, lung disease, bodily scarring.
- Permanent Total Disability – Lifetime replacement of wages for loss of both hands, feet, arms, legs, eyes, or any two that are lost in the same accident. Also covers someone who is paralyzed or disabled due to a severe brain injury.
- Death Benefits – When death results from the injury, dependents such as the surviving spouse or children, may be entitled to replacement benefits for wage loss as well as payment for funeral expenses and some related expenses.
- Other – Varied expenses including reimbursement for mileage, cost of living increases, fatal benefits, etc.
Settlements can also be negotiated for long-term care, compensation for lost wages and other loss or expenses. These settlements are typically handled by attorneys working for the injured worker. Injuries on the job, especially if they cause loss, disfigurement, or requires a hospital stay or surgical intervention should be reviewed by a workers’ compensation attorney in order to ensure that the employee receives full compensation.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for workers’ compensation in Virginia begins at the date that the injury occurred, or the illness was diagnosed. When an employee is injured on the job or is diagnosed with a work-related illness, he or she has 30 days from the date of injury or diagnosis to provide the employer with notice in writing.
- A Virginia workers’ compensation claim must be filed within two years of the work related injury or diagnosis of the work related illness (unless otherwise stated in the statute of limitations). Disability needs to be proven within that two-year period, but some evidence of disability should be provided when the compensation claim is filed. A change in condition claim must be filed 2 years from the last day that the employee was paid compensation from an Award Order.
Other statutes of limitations for Virginia workers’ compensation claims for occupational disease are:
- Coal worker’s pneumoconiosis – 3 years from diagnosis as category 1/0 or greater, or 5 years of the last exposure in the workplace – whichever occurs first
- Byssinosis – 2 years from the date it is first communicated to the person or 7 years from the last date of exposure, whichever occurs first
- Asbestosis – 2 years after receiving a diagnosis
- Ordinary Disease of Life (mold exposure, hearing loss, carpal tunnel syndrome) – 2 years after receiving a diagnosis or 5 years after the last date of exposure, whichever occurs first
- Other Occupational Disease – 2 years after receiving a diagnosis or 5 years after the last date of exposure, whichever occurs first
Filing a Claim
The first step in filing a claim for workers’ compensation is for the employee to notify his or her employer, then file a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission by completing a Claim for Benefits Form. The form may be submitted in person, or by fax, mail, or Webfile. It is also wise to talk to a Virginia workers’ compensation attorney when filing a claim.
If you have been injured on the job, we can help. At the Injured Workers Law Firm, we help people just like you who have sustained injury or illness while at work. Our experienced, compassionate team will be with you every step of the way from filing to settlement and help you get the compensation you deserve. Don’t wait another minute. Call today to get the help you need and the peace of mind that comes with it.