Considering filing workers’ compensation claim in Virginia? Schedule a FREE consultation with Lugar Law PC today. Call (540) 384-0348 or fill out our online form. Lugar Law PC will fight for you to receive full and fair compensation for your injuries after a work-related accident.
Day in and day out, you get up and head into work. Whatever your position, you assume that you will make it home safely. You do not expect to end up at the doctor?s office or emergency room, yet it happens to thousands of people every year. Workplace accidents in Virginia are common, and unfortunately, so are work-related injuries. When you are hurt at work or because of your work duties, the financial responsibilities should not rest on your shoulders. As an employee in the Commonwealth, you are likely covered by Virginia?s workers? compensation insurance system.
By filing a workers? compensation claim, you can have your medical expenses paid for and receive a portion of your wages while you recover. To learn more about your workers? compensation rights, and how to collect what you are owed, do not hesitate to speak to a Roanoke workers? compensation lawyer from Lugar Law PC. Our Roanoke injury lawyers are here to help after your work accident.
Questions to ask our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
After a work injury, you may be overwhelmed and unsure of your rights. The last thing you need when you’re trying to get back to work is pressure from your employer or their insurer. At Lugar Law PC, we focus on making sure you are fully informed about your options and what to expect.
With over a decade of experience protecting the rights of injured workers in Southwest Virginia, Lugar Law PC is ideally suited to get the benefits you deserve. We are happy to offer a free, no-obligation consultation with our knowledgable lawyers.
Some of the common questions we hear from our workers? comp clients are:
What should I do if I?m injured on the job?
You should report any injury on the job as soon as possible to your employer, supervisor, or manager (preferably in writing and keep a copy). This can be done verbally or in writing. If it is in writing, make sure you receive a copy. From there, seek appropriate medical care and contact a workers? compensation attorney about how to proceed. Providing prompt notice to your employer is very important because there are strict time limits and failure to report an injury may limit or disqualify you from benefits. Even if you do not think you are hurt ?that bad?, still REPORT.
Can I be fired for filing a workers? comp claim?
Many people avoid seeking benefits for a work injury because they fear losing their position. However, this is illegal under Virginia Code Section 65.2-308. Specifically, ?No employer or person shall discharge an employee solely because the employee intends to file or has filed a claim under the Workers Compensation Act or has testified or is about to testify in any proceeding under the Workers Compensation Act.? In addition to termination, you are also protected from demotion, discrimination, or other forms workplace retaliation.
Do I need a workers? comp lawyer?
There is no legal requirement to have a lawyer to pursue workers? compensation in Virginia. The laws and the VWC allow an individual to represent themselves. However, an employer?s insurance carrier may not be sympathetic to your needs or the process may become too convoluted to ensure you collect a just amount of compensation. You can benefit from consulting with a skilled attorney, who can stand up to insurers especially if litigation is necessary, facilitate a smooth process, and maximize your claim.
What does a workers? comp lawyer cost?
This is a frequent question for anyone considering any type of legal representation. We certainly appreciate your concern, and at Lugar Law PC, we are only interested in reducing your financial burden, not add to your worries. Our attorneys are paid on a contingency basis (per the statutory allowable amount by law) and only receive payment after you receive benefits or by successfully settling your claim. Further, the VWC supervises the legal fees assessed in every case based on the work performed, its quality, and what you ? the client recovered.
What Is Workers? Compensation?
Workers? compensation is a type of insurance coverage for employees who are hurt on the job. Many employers in Virginia are required to carry workers? compensation coverage. Workers? comp is intended to make sure injured workers receive medical care and, in many cases, wage benefits to cover a portion of their lost wages while they are unable to work. It pays for all reasonable and necessary medical care required to treat the work-related injury.
Virginia?s Workers? Compensation Insurance Law
If you work in Roanoke or another part of the Commonwealth, Virginia law requires that employers who regularly employ more than two part-time or full-time employees carry workers’ compensation insurance. Employees who suffer an ?injury by accident? or an ?occupational disease? in Virginia may be eligible for benefits under the?Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act. This includes part-time, full-time, seasonal, and temporary workers, as well as minors, trainees, immigrants, and working family members. Subcontractors are also counted when determining the number of employees a business has.
The law is broad and requires most employers to carry workers? compensation insurance for their employees, so you are likely covered. However, if you are unsure of your coverage, you should speak with a workers? compensation attorney. No matter which scenario applies, time will be of the essence in a Virginia workers? comp case. While the law allows you to file a claim with the Virginia Workers? Compensation Commission (VWC) within two years from either the date of the accident or a doctor?s diagnoses, there are other deadlines and factors to consider.
Common Workers? Compensation Injuries
While it is true that workplaces are safer than ever before, we still have a long way to go. According to the 2017 Virginia Workers? Compensation (VWC) annual report, 58,094 major workplace injuries were reported in the Commonwealth. This represents a 14% increase in First Report of Injury (FROI) submissions.
Some work injuries happen fast and are impossible to miss. These include sudden falls, equipment failures, car crashes, or burns, and can result in severe and immediate harm. But others, like overexertion or toxic exposure are more gradual with the full impact possibly going unnoticed until your life is forever changed.
At Lugar Law, P.C., our workers? compensation lawyers are highly experienced in handling workers? comp claims involving:
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Skull Fractures
- Facial Lacerations
- Other Head and Brain Trauma
- Herniated Discs in the Neck and Back
- Fractured Vertebrae
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Other Bone Fractures
- Dislocated Joints
- Soft Tissue Injuries
- Crush Injuries
- Repetitive Stress Injuries
Whatever the injury, if you were hurt while working, call us right away. We handle all types of work-related injuries, from simple broken bones to catastrophic spinal cord injuries. Our top priorities will always be to ensure you are receiving the medical care you need and to obtain the maximum benefits possible under workers? compensation insurance.
Common Workplace Accidents
While there are several health and safety laws in place, on the job injuries can happen in any industry or work environment. However, some occupations face greater risks than others. Individuals in the construction, oil and gas, agricultural, and transportation fields face various dangers at work.
Even when safety measures are taken, workers could be injured by:
- Construction Accidents
- Warehouse Accidents
- Forklift Accidents
- Crane Accidents
- Heavy Equipment and Machinery Accidents
- Motor Vehicle Collisions
- Weather-Related Incidents
- Struck by Moving Objects
- Repetitive Motions
- Workplace Violence
- Electric Shock
- Exposure to Harmful and Toxic Substances
- Explosions and Fires
Working with a Roanoke workers? compensation attorney from the beginning can mean all the difference in how your claim progresses. Securing the appropriate compensation can be challenging and navigating the administrative process can be complicated, especially if your initial claim is denied. In many cases, your employer or their insurance company will try to limit what they pay out, but at Lugar Law PC, we know their tactics and how to optimize your chance for a successful workers? comp claim in Virginia.
Who We Help
Hurt on the Job? We provide guidance and skilled legal representation to injured workers in Roanoke and across Southwest Virginia from a variety of industries and professions:
- Manufacturing / Machine Operators
- Construction/Trade Workers
- Healthcare Employees
- Restaurant & Hospitality Employees
- Service / Custodial Workers
- Commercial Drivers
- Gas & Utility Workers
- Merchandise / Retail Employees
- Agricultural / Farm Workers
- Municipal & Government Employees
The Requirements for Workers? Compensation
Workers’ compensation insurance will cover not every injury or medical condition. Under the Virginia Workers? Compensation Act, the injury must:
- Have occurred while you were at work or during a work-related function;
- Be the direct result of a specific work activity; or
- Have happened suddenly at a particular time.
For an injury or a medical condition to be covered by workers? comp, it needs to have arisen because of your job. Injuries incurred over time or from repetitive trauma are generally not covered, although certain diseases caused by repetitive trauma are.
To be classified as a work-related disease, it must:
- Be caused by the work.
- Not be a disease of the back, neck, or spine.
If your employer or the insurance company believes your injury or condition occurred outside of work, because of factors outside of work, or because of your own misconduct, your workers? comp claim may be denied.
On the other hand, if the negligence of someone not connected with your employer caused you to be injured on the job you may file a third party claim. In this situation, you should call a workers? compensation lawyer with extensive personal injury experience right away.
How to Report a Workers? Compensation Claim
If you were hurt while at work and want to pursue workers? comp benefits, you need to take the following steps:
- Report the injury or diagnosis to your employer as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days from the date of the injury or diagnosis, and
- File a workers comp claim with the Virginia Workers? Compensation Commission in person, by mail, or online within two years.
Once you notify your employer of your injury or a diagnosis of a work-related medical condition, your employer has 10 days to file a report with the Commission. You can inform your employer by telling a supervisor or manager in person. It is also a good idea to confirm your notice in writing. Failure to report your injury or illness to your employer within the 30-day timeframe could result in a denial.
To file a workers comp claim with the Commission, you must complete a Claim for Benefits Form. This alerts the agency of the incident, allows them to open a file for your claim, and protects your right to compensation. If you have any questions about this form and how to file it with the Commission, contact our workers? compensation attorneys as soon as possible. While you have up to two years to file a workers? compensation claim with the Commission, you should turn in the form as soon as possible.
Virginia Workers? Compensation Benefits
If you were injured at work, you cannot simply go without your income for weeks, months, or years. You will still need to pay for the medical bills and your other obligations. You need workers? comp to take care of you. To learn more about workers? comp medical benefits and possible wage replacement, do not hesitate to speak with a workers? compensation lawyer. Lugar Law PC is here to make sure you know what your rights are under Virginia?s workers? compensation laws.
Under Virginia?s workers? comp system, you may be approved for:
The insurance will pay for your reasonable and necessary expenses related to the workplace injury. These benefits are unlimited by amount or duration. You can continue to receive medical benefits as long as you need to. The only limit is treatment outside the bounds of what is recommended by your physicians.
Lost Wages Benefits
If you are temporarily disabled and unable to work, your lost wages may be replaced fully or in part. The amount and duration depend on whether you are totally or partially disabled. For a temporary total disability, you will receive two-thirds of your pre-injury regular wages, subject to minimum and maximums dictated by law. For a temporary partial disability, you will receive two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury and post-injury income.
Permanent Partial Disability
If you are permanently and partially disabled due to a work-related injury, like being unable to use a specific body part, vision or hearing loss, scarring, or disfigurement, you can receive compensation for that loss. The amount of compensation you may receive is based on a fee schedule, also known as scheduled loss benefits.
Permanent Total Disability
If you become permanently and totally disabled due to a workplace accident, then you may receive wage replacements for the rest of your life. The amount is equal to two-thirds of your pre-injury income, subject to minimum and maximum requirements.
Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)
If you receive wage benefits for multiple years in a row, you may request a cost of living adjustment. This is not automatic. You must file a COLA claim to have your wage benefits increased for inflation.
If you cannot go back to the job you had before the work-related injury, then workers? comp insurance may cover vocational rehabilitation services, including new job training, tuition reimbursement, help with job hunting, resumes, and interviewing skills.
Mileage and Transportation
Workers? comp may reimburse you for the transportation and mileage costs of going back and forth to medical appoints, rehabilitation, or job interviews.
If you lost a spouse or parent in a workplace accident, then you may receive compensation for the funeral and wage benefits.
Workers? Compensation Settlements
For wage replacement under workers? compensation insurance, you may receive weekly payments. However, you also might have the option to negotiate and agree to a lump sum. Workers? compensation settlements may be advantageous if you can reasonably predict your future medical needs and if Virginia?s maximum weekly compensation would be less than two-thirds of your pre-injury wages.
A lump sum may not be helpful if you cannot predict your future medical needs. If you agree to a workers? comp settlement and then need more care in the future, you typically cannot go back and ask for more. However, if your physicians can reasonably say what your medical needs will be in the coming weeks, months, or years, then a settlement may be helpful.
A settlement may be a good idea if you are only allowed up to the maximum weekly amount. If you had a high salary before the work accident, then two-thirds of your wages may be more than what is allowed by law. The maximum amount may only be half or less than your pre-injury wages, which would be hard to live on. You may prefer to negotiate for a higher amount of compensation at once, enabling you to negotiate to receive at least two-thirds of your pre-injury wages for a period.
Whether a lump sum workers? comp settlement is beneficial to you depends on many factors. You should speak with a workers? compensation lawyer in Roanoke before deciding or agreeing to anything with an insurance company.
If Your Workers? Compensation Claim Is Denied
If you receive a letter stating that your workers? comp claim has been denied, call us right away. You have the right to request a hearing with the Commission. This is not a trial?it is an administrative process. However, it is just as serious as a court case. You will benefit from having an experienced workers? comp attorney prepare for the hearing and represent you during any proceeding or mediation, which is an alternative to pursuing workers? comp benefits. If your workers? comp claim is denied after the hearing, you may appeal the decision to the full Commission within 30 days.
If the Commission also denies your claim, then you have the right to file an appeal in the Virginia Court of Appeals within 30 days of the Commission?s decision. The thought of litigating your workers? compensation case may be intimidating. This is why it is best to work with an attorney as early on as possible. By hiring an experienced lawyer, you have the best chance of having your claim approved without going through multiple stages of appeal.