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“They sent somebody to visit me in the hospital and get my side of the story (totally free). I was assigned Mr. Crawford and told that we had a case. Fast forward about 9 months later and I received literally 14x what the insurance company had offered me. This is after the lawyer and medical fees as well. So basically this was totally free and I barely had to do anything I am so glad I called Marks and Harrison and I will be recommending them to all of my family and friends.”— Robert Smith
Under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, an employee who has been injured on the job does not have to prove that any one was specifically at fault in the accident, nor does he or she have to prove negligence of the employer. Although the law was designed to take the issue of work-related injuries out of the court system and to provide injured workers swift and sure relief for their injuries, unfortunately that is no longer the case.
Employers – and their insurance companies – often try to delay action on workers’ compensation claims or refuse to pay them altogether. They are out to protect their financial interests.
As a result, workers who suffer job-related injuries and illness need to take immediate, aggressive action to protect their rights. Getting help from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is an important first step.
At Marks & Harrison, we have a history of standing up for workers that spans more than 100 years. We truly appreciate the important role that workers’ compensation benefits play in the lives of our clients and their families.
Our workers’ comp team features several skilled and highly dedicated attorneys, including Louis D. Snesil, who has been listed in Best Lawyers in America in every year since 2014.
Workers’ Compensation is designed to protect workers and their dependents against the hardships from injury or death arising out of the work environment. There are many ways employees can be injured at work, including vehicle accidents, lifting, cutting or crushing trauma, and slips and falls. Occupational illnesses are usually the result of long-term exposure or repetitive motion injuries (carpal tunnel), toxic chemicals, heart attacks and exposure to toxic materials. Workers’ Comp laws provide money and medical benefits to an employee who has an injury as a result of an accident, injury or occupational disease on the job.
If you have been injured on the job, you should:
- Get medical attention if there is an emergency.
- Report your injury as soon as possible by giving written notice to your supervisor or someone in a supervisory position. Failure to promptly give notice to your employer may affect your right to benefits. Your employer is not responsible for paying the medical treatment or wages until you give notice of the accident or disease.
- If you work for a subcontractor, you should promptly give written notice of your accident or occupational disease to your direct employer and the general contractor.
- Report all accidents, even if the injury seems minor. A small injury can develop into a serious problem.
In ordered to be covered under the terms of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, an accident must have occurred as follows:
- The accident must occur at work, or during a work -related function.
- The accident must be caused by a specific work activity.
- The accident must happen suddenly at a specific time.
Injuries incurring gradually or from repetitive stress or traumas are not covered. For example, if an employee lifts an object and feels a sudden pain causing him an injury, and he can identify that specific incident, the claim will be covered. However, if an employee lifts objects for weeks at a time and gradually develops back pain, that is not a specific injury at a specific time, and the injury would not be covered. An occupational disease will be covered if it is caused by the work and is not a disease of the back, neck, or spinal column.
The types of benefits available to claimants include payment for all medical treatment (prescriptions, supplies, equipment, hospital costs, doctors’ bills) and a portion of their weekly wages. Benefits for lost wages will vary depending on whether the injury is considered a temporary total disability or a permanent disability. Compensation is based on the employee’s average weekly wage (gross earnings before the accident or disease, usually during the preceding 52 weeks) and includes overtime and other benefits provided by the employer such as meals, uniform, car and housing allowances.
The Virginia Workers’ Compensation attorneys of Marks & Harrison strongly advise injured employees to consult a professional who understands the Virginia Workers’ Compensation laws that apply to their specific circumstances. When a worker is injured, the claim is filed with the workers’ compensation insurance company (or self-insuring employer) who pays medical and disability benefits according to a state-approved formula. A Virginia Workers’ Compensation lawyer qualified to interpret Workers’ Compensation laws will be able to provide legal guidance and assistance to ensure full recovery of all funds to which the injured worker is entitled. Your employer and its insurance company will always have an experienced attorney representing their interests. You will also be dealing with insurance adjusters who work for the insurance company and whose job it is to pay as little as possible.
Some of the issues associated with Workers’ Comp claims include:
- The employer can deny Workers’ Compensation claims.
- Employers can stop paying benefits.
- Employer fraud may cause workers to be cheated out of part or all of their Workers’ Compensation claims.
- Limitations to Workers’ Compensation laws and misunderstandings about what they mean.
An attorney representing your interests will help you deal with these issues as well as many others, including returning to work and how your claim is impacted by pension benefits and unemployment compensation.
With Marks & Harrison, there is never a charge for an initial consultation, and you will pay no legal fees unless you hire us. Our team of lawyers and support staff strives to satisfactorily meet client objectives and goals by focusing on your case. Should you chose to have us represent you, we will do the following:
- Meet with you to learn all the facts relating to your case
- Explain to you all of your important legal rights
- Review your medical records in order to obtain a full understanding of your injuries and medical condition
- Meet with your physicians and health care providers.
- Answer all of your questions regarding Workers’ Compensation
- Keep you advised and informed about the progress of your case.
Workers’ Compensation FAQs
If you have been hurt on the job in Virginia, or if you have lost a loved one due to a work-related injury or illness, you will have many questions about your rights and options.
To help you get a better understanding, we present the following answers to questions that our lawyers frequently receive about workers’ compensation benefits in our state.
If you would like to discuss the specific facts of your case and get answers to your own questions, please contact Marks & Harrison to speak to a Workers Compensation lawyer. We serve clients in Richmond and from offices that are located through Virginia. We can provide a timely, free and completely confidential consultation.
Simply call or click here today to get started.
Workers’ compensation benefits are medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages that your employer must cover if you suffer:
- An injury from a work accident
- An illness directly caused by your work, or an “occupational disease”
- The loss of a loved one due to a work-related injury or illness.
Most employers in our state are required under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act to buy workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance pays benefits to employees. The benefits can play an important role in helping an injured or ill worker to get needed medical care and to pay their living expenses while they are unable to work.
You should note a few important facts about workers’ compensation benefits:
- If your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, then workers’ compensation benefits are your “exclusive remedy.” In other words, you cannot sue your employer for a work-related injury or illness.
- Workers’ compensation benefits are available, regardless of who was at fault. So, even if your own negligence partially contributed to workplace accident, you could still be eligible to receive benefits. You would not be eligible for benefits, however, if your injury or illness resulted from your own “willful misconduct” such as working while intoxicated.
- If you have a dispute about workers’ compensation benefits with your employer (or its insurer), you can file a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC).
- Receiving workers’ compensation benefits does not prevent you from filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim against a negligent non-employer, or “third party.”
Additionally, you should know that workers’ compensation benefits come with a few important restrictions, including:
- If your employer provides you with a panel or list of three doctors, you must get medical treatment from one of those doctors. Any change in doctors must be approved by your employer or ordered by the WCC.
- If you receive lost-wage benefits, they will be capped at roughly two-thirds of what you were earning each week before your injury occurred and cannot exceed an amount set by statute. Also, unless you are deemed to be totally and permanently disabled, your benefits will stop at 500 weeks.
- If a doctor finds that you have a permanent loss of use of a body part because of your work-related injury, then you may be eligible to receive payment that is based on a permanent partial impairment rating.
If you file a personal injury claim against a third party or against an employer who does not have workers’ compensation insurance, the above restrictions would not apply to your case. Also, in a lawsuit, you could seek compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one suffers a work-related injury or illness, it is important to speak with a lawyer to learn about your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits as well as all other options that may be available to you.
Your ability to sue your employer for a work-related injury generally depends on whether your employer has purchased workers’ compensation insurance.
Under Virginia law, any employer with three or more employees must have workers’ compensation insurance. However, some employers may operate in violation of this law. Also, if a company has fewer than three employees, it can still elect to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
So, if you have suffered a work-related injury or illness, determining whether your employer has workers’ compensation coverage will be a primary consideration. An attorney can help you to make that determination.
If your employer does not have workers’ compensation coverage, then yes, you can file a personal injury claim against the employer. However, unlike a workers’ compensation claim, you would need to prove that your employer was at fault (and your own fault can be taken into account, too.)
If your employer does have workers’ compensation insurance – in reality, most employers do – then you cannot sue your employer. Your “exclusive remedy” would be to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
Keep in mind: If you suffered an injury due to the negligence of a “third party,” or non-employer, then you could pursue a personal injury claim against that party. However, your recovery would be “offset” by the amount that you have received in workers’ compensation medical and lost-wage benefits.
If you suffer a work-related injury or illness, you should be entitled to receive payment of all reasonable and related medical expenses for as long as your treatment is needed.
However, if your employer provides you with a panel or list of three doctors, you will be required to get your treatment from one of those doctors. If you do not go to one of those doctors or comply with the treatment they order, you can lose your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Of course, you can change doctors if your employer (or its workers’ compensation insurer) approves the change. If the employer refuses to authorize the change, you can seek an order from the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.
A lawyer can play an important role in seeking authorization or an order that allows you to change doctors. For instance, an attorney can help you to show that a change is needed so you will receive adequate treatment. This is why you should seek legal help if you are seeking a change in doctors.
You should be eligible for temporary partial disability benefits if you can return to work – but only at a lighter duty, lesser-paying job.
If you cannot work at all, then you would be eligible for temporary total disability benefits. These benefits would cover roughly two-thirds of your average weekly wage (subject to a weekly cap that is set each year by law).
To calculate your “average weekly wage,” you must add up your gross earnings (or earnings before taxes) during the 52-week period before your injury occurred and divide that amount by 52.
If you receive temporary partial disability benefits, the amount would be equal to two-thirds of the difference between your average weekly wage before your injury and your average weekly wage after your injury.
It is important to note that temporary disability benefits are terminated when you return to regular work or after 500 weeks – unless you are deemed to have a total and permanent disability.
If your employer (or its workers’ compensation insurer) rejects your claim for medical and/or lost-wage benefits, you should speak with a lawyer right away about filing a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC).
You must file a claim with the WCC within two years after the date of your workplace accident resulting in an injury. So, it is important to move quickly if your employer has denied your claim.
An attorney can help you with filing a claim and with requesting a hearing before the WCC. The attorney can also represent you at the hearing and present evidence to help the WCC make its decision on your claim, including medical records and testimony by medical experts.
If your claim is denied by the WCC, your attorney can help you with filing a written request for a review by the WCC or with any further appeals.
In many cases, an attorney can represent you in mediation that is aimed at resolving your claim without the need for a hearing.
It is important to pay close attention to the amount of time you have to file a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. Generally speaking, you must file a claim:
- Within two years from the date of your injury from a workplace accident
- Within two years from the date you were diagnosed with an occupational disease or within five years from the date of your “last injurious exposure” at work, whichever comes first
- Within two years from the date of a loved one’s work-related death.
If you return to work and are disabled by a work-related injury again, then you have two years from the date you were last paid workers’ compensation benefits in which to file a claim.
However, in your case, an exception may apply that extends the filing time period. It is important to have your case reviewed by a lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that your claim is timely filed.
If your workers’ compensation claim is approved, you may be asked to sign a form called an “Agreement to Pay Benefits.” This form typically will state that you were injured on the job or disabled by an occupational disease, list your period of disability and contain other information about your claim.
You should make sure that all of the information is correct – especially the stated average weekly wage and the body parts that were injured or affected.
The Agreement to Pay Benefits will be sent to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) for an award to be entered on the information on the Agreement. The award requires your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier to pay your benefits.
Note: You must be disabled for at least seven days before your benefits can be paid. However, if you are disabled for a period beyond three weeks, then you can receive payment for those first seven days.
You should receive your benefits check each week. If your employer fails to send you a check as ordered by the WCC, the employer may be hit with a late penalty.
The benefits you receive are not taxable.
If your claim for medical benefits is approved, then all medical bills should be sent directly to your employers’ workers’ compensation insurer for payment. You will not need to pay any deductible.
If you are a dependent of a worker who dies from work-related injury, you may be eligible to file a claim for workers’ compensation death benefits in Virginia. The amount of benefits you can receive will depend on the extent of your dependency.
If you were wholly dependent, you could receive two-thirds of your loved one’s average weekly wage (subject to the statutory cap) for 500 weeks. If you are among several dependents, the amount would be divided amongst you.
On the other hand, if you were partially dependent, you would be eligible to receive an amount that reflects the extent of your dependency.
You may also be eligible to receive up to $10,000 in burial expenses.
You should keep in mind that you may able to pursue a third-party liability claim against a non-employer who caused your loved one’s death. This claim would seek damages available through Virginia’s wrongful death law.
Can I receive workers’ compensation benefits and Social Security Disability benefits at the same time?
If you suffer from a condition that qualifies you for both workers’ compensation benefits and Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, then you can receive both types of assistance.
However, the amount you would receive in SSD benefits would be subject to an “offset.” In other words, your SSD benefits would be reduced so that your “total public disability benefit” would not exceed 80 percent of what was your average monthly pay in the year of your highest earnings during the five-year period preceding the onset of your disability.
An attorney can help you with exploring all options available to you after you have suffered a disabling injury at work.
The workers’ compensation lawyers of Marks & Harrison have extensive experience with helping injured workers and their families to obtain the medical and lost-wage benefits they deserve.
We would welcome the opportunity to provide a free consultation about your case in our Richmond office or at any of our firm’s other offices located throughout Virginia.
We can provide services that include:
- Taking the time to learn all the facts relating to your case
- Explaining to you all of your important legal rights
- Answering all of your questions regarding workers’ compensation
- Reviewing your medical records in order to obtain a full understanding of your injuries and medical condition
- Meeting with your physicians and other health care providers
- Seeking a settlement with your employer and its workers’ compensation insurer
- Helping you to file a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission and representing you in any hearings before the WCC
- Pursuing all appeals on your before (if necessary).
- Keeping you advised and informed about the progress of your case at all times.
It all starts by getting in touch with us. Please call or connect with us online today.
You may be asked to sign a form called an Agreement to Pay Benefits. This form states that you were injured on the job or disabled by an occupational disease, lists any period of disability and has other information about your claim. Make sure that all the information is correct, especially the stated average weekly wage and the body parts that were injured or affected. The Agreement to Pay Benefits will be sent to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission for an award to be entered on the information on the Agreement. The award requires the carrier to pay your benefits.
For more information on Workers’ Compensation claims in Virginia, please review our Workers’ Compensation page.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer or Attorney Today
Contact us today by calling toll free at 1-800-283-2202. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also submit a Case Evaluation online.