If you get hurt on the job or develop an occupational illness, you may be entitled to benefits through the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system. With a workers’ comp claim, you can obtain medical benefits to treat your illness or injury as well as financial compensation for your lost wages. When a worker dies as a result of a workplace injury or illness, their survivors may be eligible for death benefits.
There are several steps involved in filing a workers’ compensation claim in Virginia Beach, starting with notifying your employer of the injury or illness within 30 days. If you fail to notify your employer, you may not be able to claim benefits. Once you have notified your employer of your injury, you have up to 2 years to file a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.
If you have been hurt on the job, a skilled Virginia Beach workers’ compensation lawyer can help you file your claim properly and on time. At Poole, Brooke, Plumlee, we have decades of combined experience advocating for injured workers in Virginia. Reach out today to learn more about how we can help you with your workers’ comp claim or schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team.
Virginia Workers’ Compensation Claims: The Basics
In Virginia, employees who get hurt on the job or develop an occupational illness can file for benefits through the workers’ comp system. All employers in Virginia with more than three part-time or full-time employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Through a workers’ compensation claim, an injured worker may be entitled to medical benefits and monetary compensation. Depending on the facts of your case, you may be eligible for:
- Medical treatment
- Temporary total disability benefits
- Temporary partial disability benefits
- Permanent partial disability benefits
- Permanent total disability benefits
- Death benefits (for survivors of a worker who died as a result of a workplace injury or illness).
Workers’ compensation is an exclusive remedy, which means that employees generally cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer for workplace injuries and illnesses. While there are some exceptions to this rule, in most cases, if you are hurt on the job, you will have to file a workers’ compensation claim if you want to get benefits.
In Virginia, workers’ comp is a no-fault system. In other words, you don’t have to prove that your employer did anything wrong in order to recover benefits. Instead, you will just have to show that you were an employee at the time of the incident, you suffered an injury or illness, and your injury or illness arose out of the course of your employment.
In many cases, workers’ comp claims in Virginia Beach are relatively straightforward. However, employers and/or their insurance companies may deny or attempt to limit a workers’ compensation claim in a number of ways, such as arguing that certain medical treatment is not necessary, that an employee can return to work, or that the injury wasn’t work-related. A skilled Virginia Beach workers’ compensation attorney can help to ensure that you get the benefits that you deserve for your injury.
How to File a Workers’ Comp Claim in Virginia Beach
There are a number of steps that an injured worker must take to file a claim for workers’ compensation in Virginia Beach. The first – and perhaps most important – step is to report the illness or injury to your employer within 30 days. Although you have 30 days to file this report, it is best to notify your employer about your injury as soon as possible, with as much detail as possible.
This initial report must be made in writing. If you don’t notify your employer within this timeframe, your claim for workers’ comp benefits may be denied under Virginia law.
The second step is to file a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission within 2 years of the date of the accident or diagnosis of an occupational illness. You can file a Claim for Benefits form with the Commission in one of four ways:
- In-person, at any Commission office location
- By mail to the Commission’s Richmond office
- By fax
- Online, using the Webfile system.
While you are not involved in this part of the process, after you provide notification of an occupational illness or injury, your employer will notify their insurer of the claim. They must also file a report of the accident or disease with the Commission within 10 days.
When the Commission has been notified of your injury or illness, it will issue a “20-day order” to the insurance company. This order puts the insurer on notice that it has 20 days to act on your Virginia Beach workers’ compensation claim.
At this point, the insurance company will begin its process. You may get a call from an insurance adjuster asking you to make a recorded statement. The adjuster may also give you a choice of three authorized physicians for you to begin medical treatment.
It is a good idea to consult with an experienced Virginia Beach workers’ compensation attorney before you talk to the adjuster or anyone else from the insurance company. Remember that insurance companies make money by paying out as little as possible on claims. They will use what you say to try to undermine your claim, by denying it outright or by underpaying.
An attorney can handle communications with the insurance company on your behalf. They can also advise you of your rights and help make sure that you do not say or do anything that could lead to your claim being denied.
What happens next depends on how the insurance company responds to your claim. If the insurer accepts your workers’ comp claim, then they will provide you with agreement forms for you to sign. The Commission will then enter an Award Order that confirms your eligibility for benefits.
However, if the insurance company denies your claim, then the case will move to a hearing before the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. In a hearing, evidence and testimony will be presented and the Commission will make a decision on the merits. A seasoned VA workers’ comp lawyer can help you gather documentation and put together a strong case for full coverage of your workers’ compensation claim.
When to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Timing is very important when it comes to filing a workers’ comp claim in Virginia Beach. You must provide written notice of injury to your employer within 30 days of the injury. You must also file a Claim Form with the Commission within 2 years of the accident or diagnosis of an occupational injury.
As noted above, if you don’t notify your employer of a workplace injury or illness on time, then your claim could be denied entirely. It is also important to file your Claim Form within 2 years – even if the insurance company has accepted your claim, is covering your medical treatment, and is paying disability benefits.
The reason why you should still file a Claim Form is simple: it protects your rights. Many injuries – even seemingly minor injuries – can take years to resolve completely. You may never fully return to your former abilities after an on-the-job injury.
If you don’t file a Claim Form with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission within 2 years, then you probably will not be able to access benefits for longer than 2 years. The insurance company may voluntarily pay benefits for the first 2 years of your claim – and then stop once the statute of limitations has run. If you are still unable to work or still require medical treatment for several years, then you won’t be able to seek additional benefits through the Commission.
A skilled Virginia Beach workers’ compensation attorney will advocate for your right to full compensation for your injuries. They will ensure that all forms are filed correctly and on time – and will fight to make sure that you get the medical treatment and financial compensation that you need. If the insurance company balks at paying all or part of your claim, we will be by your side, working to help you achieve justice.
How Our Law Firm Can Help
Being hurt on the job can be devastating. In addition to dealing with physical injuries, you may also be suffering from emotional distress and dealing with financial strain from being out of work. A workers’ compensation claim can provide the medical treatment and money that you need during this time.
For more than 30 years, the law firm of Poole, Brooke, Plumlee, PC has helped injured workers in Southeastern Virginia get the compensation that they deserve. We work hard to help our clients achieve the best possible outcome for their claim. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation with a Virginia Beach workers’ compensation lawyer, give our law office a call at 757-499-1841 or fill out our online contact form.