If you were injured in a workplace accident or through an act of violence, or you were recently diagnosed with a medical condition related to your job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits under Virginia law. However, these benefits are not automatic. You need to file a claim and prove you are suffering from a work-related injury or medical condition. Unfortunately, filing a workers’ comp claim can quickly become a complex process, particularly if your employer or its insurance carrier says your injury or condition is not covered.
Whether you are just beginning the process or are dealing with a claim denial, contact the Roanoke workers’ compensation lawyers at Lugar Injury Law. We will help you through this process and fight for you to receive appropriate workers’ comp benefits.
How to File for Workers’ Compensation in Virginia
If you are hurt at work, the first step in the workers’ compensation claim process is determining whether you can pursue workers’ comp benefits or not. Not all injuries or medical conditions are covered. However, a majority of work-related injuries and diseases may be compensable injuries, which make you eligible for medical and wage benefits.
As long as your employer is required by Virginia law to carry workers’ compensation insurance, you are covered for an injury caused by an accident or an occupational disease.
Regarding an injury by accident, you must meet the following elements:
- The accident occurred at work or during a work-related situation
- A specific work activity caused the injury
- Happened suddenly at a specific time
In regard to occupational diseases, you must meet the following elements:
- Your work responsibilities caused the condition
- The disease is not of the back, neck, or spinal column
What Types of Injuries are Covered Under Workers’ Compensation?
A wide range of injuries are covered by workers’ compensation insurance in VA, including:
- Sudden, traumatic injuries, including broken bones, soft tissue injuries, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), spinal cord injuries, and gunshot wounds
- Diseases caused by repetitive trauma, such as tendon disorders and nerve damage
- Diseases caused by exposure to irritants and toxic substances, such as silicosis, asbestosis, and mesothelioma
How to File a Workers’ Comp Claim
Obtaining workers’ comp benefits requires filing a workers’ comp claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. By alerting the Commission directly of the accident and your injury (or your occupational disease diagnosis), you are taking a crucial step to protect your right to workers’ compensation benefits.
You can file the Claim for Benefits Form in person, by mail, by fax, or online. To file the form online, you will need to set up a WebFile account. You also should attach, or deliver as soon as possible, your medical records from your physician.
For help with filling out the Claim for Benefits Form and ensuring you provide the proper documentation, contact Lugar Injury Law as soon as possible. We will help you begin the workers’ compensation claims process, and will fight hard for you to receive all the benefits you are entitled to.
What Happens When You File a Workers’ Comp Claim?
After notifying your employer of your injury or diagnosis and filing a workers’ comp claim form with the Commission, the next step is for your employer. Your employer?s responsibilities in the workers’ compensation process include filing the First Report of Injury with the Commission within 10 days of your employer learning of your injury or diagnosis. After the Commission receives this report, it will send you a notification of your rights and your employers? responsibilities.
If the workers’ compensation insurance administrator accepts your claim, you will receive an award agreement. You have the right to have this reviewed by a workers’ compensation lawyer if you believe the award does not include all of the benefits you are entitled to. Once you reach an agreement with the insurer and all parties sign the award, a copy must be filed with the Commission, which then enters an Award Order that protects your rights.
Depending on the benefits you are to receive, you may receive weekly compensation or negotiation a lump sum settlement. Whether one of these options is better for you than the other depends on the specific facts of your case. You should talk with a workers’ compensation lawyer about your benefits and whether a lump sum would benefit you in the future.
Depending on the circumstances, you may wish to request an administrative hearing with the Commission. This may be necessary if your claim or certain benefits are denied. During this process, you should have a Roanoke workers’ compensation attorney represent you. You may need to go through mediation or prepare to present your case before a workers’ compensation judge.
If you disagree with the judge?s decision, you can appeal it to the full Commission. You also can appeal the Commission?s decision to your local Court of Appeals.
How Long Do You Have to File a Workers’ Comp Claim in Virginia?
If you are injured in a work-related accident or are diagnosed with a work-related disease, then it is important to notify your employer as soon as possible. It is best to inform management within days of the injury or diagnosis. However, you do technically have a longer period of time to pursue worker? compensation benefits.
If you are injured in an accident or diagnosed with an occupational disease, you have up to two years to file a workers’ compensation claim in Virginia. For a disease, you also may have up to five years from the date of your last exposure to the harmful condition that caused the disease to file a claim. Also, if you are dealing with an occupational disease such as asbestosis, silicosis, byssinosis, or coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, you should speak with a Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer because these have different time limits.
Contact Our Us About Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim Today
After suffering a work-related injury or medical condition, you should pursue all of the benefits possible under workers’ compensation insurance. However, doing so can be a difficult process, especially if you encounter push back from your employer or their workers’ comp administrator. To fight for your right to medical and wage benefits, you should work with our experienced Roanoke workers’ compensation attorneys at Lugar Injury Law.