If you work in a high-risk industry, like oil exploration, construction, or mining, getting injured while working (and because of work) is a very real possibility. As such, it’s only prudent that you have a basic understanding on workers’ compensation. While the law in Virginia does favor workers, there’s a significant amount of red tape and factors which one should consider.
We’ve prepared this guide to help you develop this understanding so, at the very least, you know what to do if, God forbid, you were injured at work.
How are workers compensated?
Compensation for workers comes in three main forms. First off, all your medical expenses related to the injury would most definitely be covered. Whether its surgery, physiotherapy, or doctor consultations, you’ll be compensated for any and all treatment in relation to your injury.
You would also be covered for any wages that you would have earned had you been able to work if the injury had not been caused. This is known as wage-loss benefits and they are calculated based on a number of factors. If you quit your employment after the injury, then you could lose the right to wage-loss earnings, depending on the circumstances. There is also a cap on how much wage-loss compensation a worker is entitled to.
Finally, in the worst event where a permanent disability or disfigurement occurs, God forbid, then the worker would also be entitled to disability benefits. The sums can be significant depending on the injury and disability or disfigurement but, among other things, lost potential earnings (for life) are also taken into account.
Depending on the circumstances, a workers’ compensation claim can take anywhere from a few weeks to years. As we mentioned above, there’s quite a bit of red tape involved. Your employer must first file a “First Report of Injury” with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission, within a week of your employer being notified of the injury. If it goes beyond a week, your claim might get delayed or, worse, canceled.
Then you need to get a report from the attending physician, after which the claim is filed with the court. Then you need to get a written statement from the insurance company which has to be submitted to the courts, who will then decide the outcome. All of these steps are time-sensitive and delays can result in serious consequences.
Do I need a lawyer for a workers’ compensation claim?
As you can see from above, when it comes to workers’ compensation, there’s a significant number of requirements to be met, both legally and procedurally. Now, while you can represent yourself before a court of law, actually doing it is another matter altogether. With so much at stake and with the standard being set so high, it is best if you were to hire the services of a workers’ compensation lawyer.
A lawyer would already know their way around all these legal and procedural requirements, taking a great deal of stress off your shoulders, especially when you already have an injury to deal with.