Whether you work in an office, in a laboratory, or a construction site, injuries on the job occur. When they do, they can disrupt your work and your life. Depending on how serious the injury, you and your family could be substantially impacted years to come.
As a result, the State of Virginia has developed a system to protect workers and provide benefits to those who are injured, or to the families of those fatally injured, on the job. Those benefits are provided in accordance with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act. Specifically, the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act is the law that lays out all of the rules and requirements for the payment of workers’ compensation benefits in the State. The Act, however, can be rather complicated.
Accordingly, if you have been injured on the job, or a loved one has suffered an injury that resulted in death, you need the help of a qualified Virginia workers’ compensation attorney to guide you through the process.
Our team at The Injured Workers Law Firm is here to help you. We are the experts in handling matters involving the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, and we care deeply about getting our clients the benefits – and justice – they deserve. In order to maximize the workers’ compensation benefits owed to you, we welcome you to contact one of our legal professionals at The Injured Workers Law Firm by calling 866-608-5893, or filling out our online contact form. Contact us today. You will be glad you did.
What Types of Benefits Does Virginia’s Workers’ Compensation Provide?
Given that an on-the-job injury or occupational disease can result in the need for medical treatment, lost wages, and even death benefits, Virginia’s Workers’ Compensation Act provides for a variety of benefits. Those benefits include:
- Medical Benefits
- Payment for Lost Wages
- Compensation for Permanent Loss of body member, either total or partial
- Vocational Rehabilitation
- Death Benefits
- Lifetime Disability Benefits
Each benefit is different, and you may or may not qualify for each type. However, the range of benefits is designed to cover all types of work injuries. We at The Injured Workers Law Firm have an in-depth understanding of all of the benefits above. To learn more about the various types of benefits, click here.
How Much Does Workers’ Compensation Benefits Pay?
The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act standardizes the benefits that are provided in Virginia. The law sets forth a maximum, and a minimum, that can be paid in benefits in order to give certainty to employees, employers, and insurance carriers.
With regard to the maximum you can get receive from workers’ compensation, the amount is either: (i) two-thirds of your pre-injury wage, or (ii) the maximum benefit for the year in which you were injured – whichever is lower.
So, assume you were injured and had to miss work for a period of time. Also, assume that you made an average of $900 per week. In that case, you would be entitled to a temporary total disability benefit of $600 per week, which is two-thirds of your pre-injury wage.
However, if you are a high-wage earner, then your benefits may hit a ceiling at the maximum weekly benefit under Virginia law. For example, the maximum weekly benefit under Virginia law was $1,043 per week in 2017. Therefore, if you were injured in the year 2017 and two-thirds of your average weekly wage was more than $1,043, you would only be entitled to receive the maximum ($1,043) per week under workers’ compensation.
As noted, Virginia law also establishes a minimum weekly compensation payment. To give you some context, in 2017, the law set the minimum weekly payment at $260.75; and in 2018, the minimum was $270.50. If you made $250.00 a week, then your benefits would not be reduced to two-thirds of your average weekly wage. You would receive $250.00 per week.
To maximize your weekly compensation benefit, you should be sure to include every type of income you normally receive from your job when making a claim. That could include overtime payments, bonuses, tips, commissions, and other fringe benefits. If you consult with The Injured Workers Law Firm, we will make sure that we include all the pre-injury income you typically receive in order to maximize your workers’ compensation benefits.
How Long Do the Benefits Last?
With regard to those with a temporary disability, the workers’ compensation benefits are paid until (i) the doctor releases you to your pre-injury work capabilities, (ii) the carrier finds you a job at your pre-injury wage or (iii) you have received 500 weeks of payment.
With regard to those on permanent total disability, if a doctor determines that you are permanently totally disabled (with conditions such as the loss of two limbs, paralysis, or brain injury), you will receive weekly payments for life.
Finally, with regard to permanent partial disability, if your physician finds that you have partially lost the use of a limb, then the benefit is paid at two-thirds your average weekly wage for the number of weeks determined by the Virginia state schedule. The number of weeks is related to the particular body part injured. Necks and backs are not covered. For example, if your doctor says that you have a 15% loss of use of your right arm since an arm is worth 200 weeks, then you would receive benefits for 30 weeks.
How Do I Get Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
To get workers’ compensation benefits, the key is to give proper notice. Specifically, you must give proper notice to:
- Your employer, and
- The State of Virginia by notifying the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission
The notice to your employer should include your contact information and specific information about the injury you suffered at work. This is important so your employer can begin its part of the workers’ compensation insurance process.
The written notice to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission should be through a claim. There is a Claim Form that needs to be filed with the Commission. This filing is vital so you do not lose your rights to your workers’ compensation benefits.
Does Workers’ Compensation cover all Richmond employees?
Workers’ Compensation laws are complicated and may vary from one state to the next. Fully understanding your rights as an employee may be difficult, which is why some choose to consult with a Richmond Workers’ Comp attorney.
One of the false assumptions made regarding Workers’ Compensation is that all workers are covered. Although this may depend on the state you in which you reside, the number of employees who work at a company may determine if Workers’ Comp is required.
In the state of Virginia, any employer who has three or more full- or part-time workers must provide Workers’ Compensation insurance. Companies who have less than three employees may voluntarily provide Workers’ Compensation.
Another factor that will impact whether compensation is mandatory is the type of business category a company falls under. Certain businesses may be excluded.
Certain types of workers may not qualify for Workers’ Compensation, including:
- farm workers,
- seasonal workers, and
- domestic employees.
Workers’ Compensation laws are important and are meant to protect those who are eligible. Workers’ Comp laws began in the early part of the 20th century to improve safety standards, but also to provide medical coverage and other benefits. If your rights have been violated, you may wish to speak with an attorney.
Everyone is entitled to work in a safe environment; however, when work accidents occur, they have the potential to cause serious injuries. If you have recently sustained a work injury that requires medical treatment and time off of work, a qualified injury attorney can help you file a Virginia Workers’ Compensation claim in order to get your expenses covered.
While you must be able to prove that your work injury occurred during the course and scope of your employment, there can be some gray areas; work accidents don’t always occur exactly when you are performing your job responsibilities; other work-related events could be responsible for your injuries. A Virginia work injury attorney can gather evidence to establish that workers compensation is liable for your injury in an effort to prove your case.
Instances When Injuries MAY be Covered
While being injured during your commute to your workplace isn’t typically covered by Virginia Workers’ Compensation, you may be covered if you’re driving a company vehicle and are injured while traveling to work or a job site.
Injuries sustained during a business trip may also be covered by workers’ comp. For example, if you are a salesperson who must travel to different locations to meet with clients and you are involved in a car accident that results in injuries, you may file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
If your company sponsors a special employee function, such as a party or sporting event, and you are injured, your work accident may be covered by workers’ compensation. For example, if you are participating in a company-sponsored baseball game and sustain a broken arm during a fall, you may be eligible to file for Virginia Workers’ Compensation benefits to obtain compensation for your medical treatment and lost wages.
In most cases, injuries that occur during your lunch or other breaks cannot be covered by workers comp. However, if your boss asked you to go out to pick up lunch for him or her, and you break your leg by slipping on the restaurant floor, you may be able to get Virginia Workers’ Compensation benefits.
Additionally, if you injure yourself at your workplace cafeteria, then you may be covered under workers comp. A Virginia workers compensation attorney can review your situation to determine if the work accident is covered and help you file the appropriate paperwork for your Workers’ Compensation claim.
Work accidents can be a little bit trickier to claim when a pre-existing condition exists, but it can be done. For example, if you had a back injury when you were younger and it resolved itself and you are asked years later to carry a heavy box and it caused the injury to recur, you may be entitled to Virginia Workers’ Compensation benefits to treat your injury.
An attorney can work with your physician to establish that your work accident aggravated your pre-existing condition.
Violating Safety Rules
Many employers have enforced strict safety rules in order to avoid work accidents and injuries; however, if you were injured while breaking these rules, there is a chance that your medical expenses can be covered by Virginia Workers’ Compensation benefits.
Please note that if you intentionally harm yourself, your injuries may not be covered. A lawyer can look at the circumstances of your work accident to determine if you are eligible to file for benefits.
If your work involves being around loud noises and you sustain hearing loss as a result, Virginia Workers’ Compensation may cover your medical treatment. The key is to prove that the hearing loss occurred as a result of your job, and not another factor.
Traumatic Physical Injuries
These are the most common types of injuries. They happen after a specific accident during a worker’s shift. They are not chronic injuries or diseases that worsen over time and can include anything from a back sprain to a severed finger.
Unlike traumatic physical injuries, these are not one-time incidents caused by a strike or blow to the body. These are chronic conditions that occur after repetitive movement. For example, you may dislocate your shoulder after repeatedly carrying heavy objects or pull a muscle in your back from many instances of improper lifting.
You sometimes can receive worker’s compensation without a physical injury at all. Emotional trauma without injury is covered in some states. For example, witnessing a horrific workplace accident may cause stress and the desire to avoid going to work. If your co-workers were laid off and you ended up with all their work, the workload may be too much to bear and you may be able to claim stress.
You may experience stress and other emotional problems after suffering an injury accident, and sometimes you can claim these issues. Claiming mental injuries can sometimes be difficult, so it helps to have a Virginia workers’ compensation attorney handling your case.
Occupational diseases are the least common types of diseases, but they are able to be claimed in some states under workers’ compensation. If you live in Virginia, it’s best to seek help from a workers’ compensation attorney to assess your case.
Occupational diseases occur over time and are caused by unhealthy working conditions. One of the most common types of occupational diseases is mesothelioma, which is a type of lung cancer caused by inhaling or coming into contact with asbestos. Any other of type of disease caused by exposure to toxic chemicals typically would be covered too, although coverage varies by state.
In order to claim workers’ compensation for an occupational disease, you need to prove that the disease was caused by the work environment. To prove this, you may be able to claim that your co-workers developed the same disease.
If you are unsure how to prove your case, management or human resources may be able to answer any questions you have. If you’re not satisfied with the answers you receive, you may want to consider talking to a workers’ compensation attorney. An attorney can review your case and work environment to determine whether it is unsafe and is, in fact, the cause of your disease.
Although just about any workplace injury is covered under workers’ compensation, there are exceptions where your workers’ compensation claim may be denied. Here are a few examples:
- If you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident, they have the right to test you. If the test is positive, the workers’ compensation board can deny your claim;
- your injury was self-inflicted and done purposely in order to file a fraudulent claim;
- you were doing something illegal or against company policy when the injury occurred; and
- evidence shows that the injury did not occur at the workplace.
Contact a Virginia Workers’ Compensation Attorney to Help
With specific filing forms and short deadlines, the best thing you can do to protect and maximize your workers’ compensation benefits after a work-related injury is to contact an experienced Virginia workers’ compensation attorney. We at The Injured Workers Law Firm are here to help you get the benefits to which you are entitled. We pride ourselves on providing top-notch representation for our clients. We will make the process easy and efficient for you, and we will fight to get you the best outcome. Call us today at 866-608-5893.