A work-related injury can be devastating to you and your family. You may be saving for a home, worried about paying for the kids to go to school or saving for retirement. In an instant, a work-related injury can change all of your plans. Workers’ compensation is there to get you the medical treatment you need, and to protect against falling into financial ruin due to a work injury. That said, to minimize the disruption a work injury can cause, you need to know your rights.
For instance, if you were injured in an automobile accident while you were at work or in the midst of performing a job-related duty and a non-coworker was at fault for the accident, you have grounds to file an automobile accident claim. Similarly, if you were injured at work because a piece of equipment you were using was faulty or defective, you may have grounds to file a products liability claim.
You might be eligible for a premises liability claim if where you were hurt was any place that isn’t owned by your employer:
- a contractor’s shipping yard;
- a parking lot;
- a store; and
- any building that is owned by someone other than the person or company who employs you.
The most beneficial way to get the compensation you deserve is to speak with a Virginia workers’ compensation attorney as soon as you can. The Injured Workers Law Firm has been helping clients for years with workers’ compensation claims. Our team of attorneys has a track record of fighting zealously for our clients, because we are passionate about getting justice in the workers’ compensation process. Call us at 804-755-7755 for more information. We will fight for you.
Notify Your Employer
The first step with regard to any work-related injury is to make sure that your employer is notified. In fact, that rule is mandated by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act. According to the Act, you must notify your employer, in writing, about the work-related injury within 30 days of the injury.
Another important step for you is to get acquainted with Virginia’s workers’ compensation process. Following a work accident, one of the first questions that may come to your mind is “what are my rights?” That is a valid question. Although every situation has its own complexities, there are some fundamental workers’ compensation rights of which you should be aware. They include the right to file a workers’ compensation claim, and the right to obtain both medical treatment and legal counsel.
In fact, to learn about all of your rights if you have suffered an injury at work, check out The Injured Workers Law Firm article “Your Rights After an Injury at Work.” It is a “must read” as you embark on a workers’ compensation claim journey.
Do Not Wait to Report Your Injury
A lot of people wait to report a work injury for a number of reasons:
- not wanting to appear weak
- thinking that the work injury is “not that bad” or that it will heal on its own
- fear of retaliation from their employers/loss of their job
- there is no one around to fill out an injury report
I can understand why someone might want to wait to report a work injury BUT what many people don’t realize until it is too late, is that the workers’ compensation insurance company is not going to just take an injured worker’s word regarding anything. If someone injurer their neck at work and fails to report the injury at the time of the injury and then they are in a car accident on their way to the doctor’s office for treatment of the work injury (even a minor fender bender), there is no documentation of your work injury and the insurance company will likely try to deny your claim.
I also hear about people who “tweak” their arm or shoulder at work and, then, while doing something non-work-related (like playing basketball or doing chores around the yard) realize they truly are injured. The problem then becomes – did the injury come from the work injury OR the non-work-related activity? If there is no documentation of the work injury it will be very hard to argue that their injury came from work and not from other activities.
Can You Sue Your Employer?
In addition to the question “What are my rights?” another important question you may be asking yourself is “Can I sue my employer?”
Generally speaking, in Virginia, you cannot sue your employer for a work-related injury. The only recourse to obtain compensation is to through Virginia’s workers’ compensation law.
The reason why workers’ compensation is the only avenue available is that it provides much-needed certainty to both employees and employers. All states created workers compensation laws as a compromise.
Stated differently, without workers’ compensation benefits, an injured employee may never be able to obtain the compensation he or she deserves because an employer could leverage its financial advantage over an employee, stalling or removing any chance of recovery. The injured worker would have to prove negligence on the part of the employer and wait years for any financial recovery. By the same token, one catastrophic accident in the workplace could financially ruin a small employer, putting it out of business.
Accordingly, the workers’ compensation process is seen as a trade-off. Employees are better able to obtain some compensation in a reasonable amount of time, and in a manner that allows for proper medical attention. Yet, in return, employers cannot be sued and are better able to manage risk by carrying workers’ compensation insurance.
To learn more about the reasons why an employee cannot generally sue an employer for a work injury, check out our article “Can You Sue Your Employer for a Work Injury?”
Myths vs Facts about VA Workers Compensation
I didn’t report my injury the day it happened, so I can’t get workers compensation benefits.
In the State of Virginia you can be covered by workers compensatin benefits so long as the injury is reported to the employer within 30 days of the accident.
The injury was partly my fault, so I can’t get worker compensatin benefits.
Workers compensation is a no fault process & it doesn’t matter who is at fault for the accident.
I was injured at work so I am going to sue my employer!
In Virginia, you are entitled to workers compensation benefits for a work accident injury but you cannot sue your employer because you get injured at work.
The insurance company is paying my medical bills, so I’m covered.
The ONLY way to ensure you are protected is to file a Claim Form with the Virginia Workers Compensation Commision and get an award for lifetime medical benefits.
I was at work while I was injured, so I’m covered.
Your injury must be related to work in order to be covered. If you fall from tripping over your own feet or have a heart attack, simply being at work does not mean you are covered. Virginia law requires that there is a link between your injury and work.
The insurance adjuster is looking our for me.
The adjuster is an agent of the insurance company and their job is to save the insurance company money. They do this by not paying claims. Be careful who you put your trust in.
I’m a good worker, so my emplyer will take care of me.
The insurance company determines your benefits. In order to get those benefits you have to meet the laws set forth by VA State Legislature. Being a great (or horrible) employee is NOT a factor determining benefits.
WE ARE DIFFERENT. We handle work injuries only.
Our firm is different from a typical workers’ compensation law firm.
We do not take a large volume of cases and settle them cheaply without any intention of taking the cases to a hearing. Also, many times, clients come to us with cases for which they are clearly entitled to a recovery. However, because the injuries to the worker may be minor or they have not lost time from work, we may decide that it is their best interest and they will make more money not hiring an attorney and settling with the insurance company on their own.
We tell our clients upfront that hiring an attorney will get them more money. If we don’t take your case, we give you guidance on how to settle your case on your own.
What Type of Lawyer Do You Need?
When it comes to workers’ compensation matters in Virginia, you need an expert in workers’ compensation law. A general practice attorney will not be able to handle your case as effectively as someone who has specialized in workers’ compensation for years. Indeed, Virginia’s Workers’ Compensation Act is complex and has many rules and exceptions that change frequently. Only a workers’ compensation specialist will be able to truly represent your interests and obtain the best outcome in your case.
Our attorneys at The Injured Workers Law Firm are the kind of specialists you need. For decades, we have been in the trenches fighting for our workers’ compensation clients here in Richmond, Virginia. In fact, you cannot find more experienced Virginia workers’ compensation lawyers than the professionals at The Injured Workers Law Firm. Call us for a free consultation at 804-755-7755.
Having handled as many cases as The Injured Workers Law Firm has, we understand the challenges you face, both medical and financial. We are here to help you by making the workers’ compensation process easy, so you can focus on healing. Call today.