Injuries and accidents that happen at workplaces in Virginia are very strictly defined by the workers’ compensation laws.
The injury to the worker must occur doing a specific act that is associated with or in the course of your employment such as lifting, falling or being struck by something.
Repetitive injuries or medical conditions that worsen over time are not normally covered in Virginia, nor are injuries that occur when performing actions that are common outside of work.
Some common workplace injuries include:
- slipping and falling on wet floors or ice
- falling from ladders
- injuries caused by operating heavy equipment or vehicles
- concussions or hitting your head
- construction accidents or injuries
When a workplace injury is reported to an employer, they have the option of providing a “panel” of three or more physicians from whom you may seek treatment. If a panel is not offered or the employer denies the claim, you may seek treatment with a physician of your choice.
If a panel of physicians IS offered and the employee chooses treatment from a physician not on the panel, the employer is NOT responsible for payment of the treatment.
An employer must offer the panel of physicians when the injury is reported, not after treatment with an employee-chosen doctor has already begun. Once an authorized treating physician is established, all reasonable and necessary treatment related to your work accident from that physician, and all referrals, IS the responsibility of your employer.
Workers’ compensation claims have fast deadlines and specific requirements. Missing these deadlines can be legally fatal to your claim.
You must and should file a claim, even if your employer and its carrier are paying benefits voluntarily. This is a common mistake made injured workers. Do NOT assume the claim has been filed for you!
You must file a claim for your workers’ compensation benefits with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission within two (2) years of your accident. This is required even if you are being paid lost wage benefits and your medical treatment is being paid.
You can file electronically online http://www.vwc.state.va.us/ at Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission or by mailing a claim form to:
Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission
1000 DMV Drive
Richmond, Virginia 23220
The date of filing is the date it is received at the Commission or the date it is mailed by certified mail.
If your physician releases you to return to work with restrictions and your employer is able to accommodate the restrictions, you are required to return to work or you may lose compensation benefits.
A physician must sign off on light duty job description.
If light duty wages fall short of your pre-injury average weekly wages, you are entitled to partial wage loss benefits, only if you properly market your residual work capacity.
Visit the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission website http://www.vwc.state.va.us/ for additional guidelines for looking for light duty work.
You must get medical treatment for your work injury as soon as possible. A minor injury may worsen over time causing severe symptoms and by not getting immediate medical care you may risk future compensation for these injuries.
You claim may be denied if your wait to see a doctor.
Medical treatment is the only way to have a medical opinion or diagnosis about your medical injury and your condition is unlikely to improve without ongoing medical care.
Also, you will not be awarded wage loss payments (like temporary partial disability benefits or temporary total disability benefits) unless a medical provider has provided work restrictions for you based on the symptoms from your injury.
PLEASE NOTE – An injury or accident must be reported to the employer within thirty (30) days to be eligible for workers’ compensation, unless there is a justified reason for not doing so. The most common reason for not reporting an injury is a belief that the injury was minor and would simply go away!
Though you have 30 days to report the work injury, don’t wait until the deadline! The longer you wait to notify your employer, the greater the likelihood the insurance carrier investigates your claim and delays the payment of benefits.
Make sure you get a signed copy of all the paperwork that you and your employer fill out. These documents may be critical to your case.
You may what to take pictures or video of the accident site and your injuries, get the names of any colleagues, witnesses, co-workers and supervisors.
If your medical provider removes you from work because of the injuries from your workplace accident, you may be entitled to lost wage benefits. Lost wage benefit payments start on the eighth day of the disability period. The first seven days are compensated when you have missed 21 days.
The amount you receive each week is determined by your pre-injury average weekly wage. Depending on the length of your employment, total earnings are averaged using the number of weeks worked in the most recent 52 weeks. Benefits paid by the employer for health care are not included in the calculation, but other benefits may be.
The lost wages compensation rate is two-thirds or .6667% of your pre-injury average weekly wage. There are minimum and maximum compensation rates which change yearly.