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How Do I File a Workman’s Compensation Case in Virginia?

If you have been injured at work, it’s important that you know the facts about Virginia Workman’s Comp.

Workers compensation laws provide that employers must obtain workers compensation insurance to cover its employees for work-related injuries. These same laws also bar personal injury suits brought by employees against employers and co-employees, namely in order to reduce the social costs associated with workplace injuries, not to mention the administrative costs associated with workplace injury litigation. However, workers compensation insurance will compensate victims of workplace injuries only up to a certain statutory maximum, and often this maximum will be insufficient to cover the costs associated with the injury, i.e. lost wages and medical bills. Additionally, worker compensation insurance typically does not cover damages for pain and suffering that are otherwise obtainable in a personal injury lawsuit. Luckily, there are exceptions to the statutory bar on personal injury lawsuits related to workplace injuries.

In Virginia the workers compensation system is compulsory for employers that have three or more employees (part-time employees included). The system compensates employees by providing benefits to an employee who has an injury as a result of an accident or occupational disease, or under certain circumstances, an ordinary disease of life, arising out of an in the course of employment. Injured employees that meet these criteria will be allowed to file a claim, and will have a seven-day waiting period following the submission of their claim to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. Compensation varies depending upon the type of injury; for example, in the case of a permanent partial disability, the disabled employee is entitled to receive two-thirds of his or her average weekly wage for a certain number of weeks of compensation determined based upon the number of weeks legally designated for a total disability to the particular part of the body. Medical expenses relating to the injury in question will also be covered, and special provisions exist for rehabilitation, cost of living supplements (if the workers compensation benefit together with the workers social security entitlement equals less than 80% of the employee’s monthly wage), and benefits to dependents in the event of the employees death.

That said, a number of issues can arise that may require additional legal action by the employee in order to rectify their situation and obtain adequate compensation. For example, an employer may attempt to reimburse you for less than the amount to which you are actually entitled. Additionally, the injuries you have sustained may require a more comprehensive compensation package than what has been offered to you under workers compensation insurance. In such cases, workers compensation determinations can be appealed, or alternatively, a lawsuit can be brought in court under certain circumstances. In other words, a lawsuit is barred by workers compensation unless a particular exception applies; for example, the workers compensation bar may not apply to a claim based on co-worker assault, even though workers compensation law does usually bar lawsuits against co-employees as well as against employers themselves.
For additional information on these and on other issues, you should consult a licensed attorney experienced with Virginia workers compensation laws. Call us at (804) 554-4444 for a consultation.