When you have suffered a workplace injury, you could face lifelong repercussions, including medical bills that last for years. Unfortunately, almost no insurance company seeks to actually protect injured workers. They are for-profit companies that want to make money. Naturally, they do not make money by paying huge settlements. Because of this, they offer many people insufficient workers’ compensation benefits. In fact, a shocking number of people every year in Virginia see workers’ compensation claims completely denied when injuries have occurred.
Insurance companies find all kinds of reasons to deny claims. To defend against fraud, they tend to be quite overzealous in claim denials. This can make an already difficult situation far worse as you are already struggling with pain and stress from dealing with an injury that has left you unable to be productive in your daily life. It becomes even harder to get well when you are constantly fighting a two-front battle: one against your injury and one against an insurance company.
Working with a dedicated Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer who understands the intricacies of workers’ compensation cases and workers’ compensation laws, and who knows the implications of your personal injury, is essential to getting the benefits you deserve. That is where our law firm comes into the picture. Montagna Klein Camden has fought for years to defend the legal rights of people just like you who were injured at work and deserve benefits. Reach out to us for a free consultation to discuss your workers’ compensation claim.
What is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Most companies in Virginia are required under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance is no-fault coverage designed to protect employees who suffer a work-related injury on the job.
This means it does not matter how the accident happened or who was at fault so long as it was under the normal scope of your work. Whether you suffer a heavy machinery accident, a vehicle accident on the way to a client meeting from your office, or just a slip and fall going to the bathroom, Virginia law says you are covered. You are entitled to benefits covering all of your medical bills and a portion of your lost wages.
If, however, you were commuting to work or going home from work, you may not be covered. Likewise, an injury caused outside of your work duties, such as a physical altercation with another person on the clock, may not be covered. In addition, Virginia workers’ comp protects the employer from a lawsuit, so most of the time you cannot sue your employer in a personal injury claim for a job injury.
Workers’ comp is in place to cover you for your injuries and offers reimbursement of a portion of your wage loss from serious injury. If you are facing a workers’ compensation claim after a serious personal injury, get in touch with our law firm at 757-622-8100 or use our online contact form to schedule a free initial consultation and case evaluation today.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Insurance Cover?
Workers’ compensation claims in Virginia can cover a range of expenses related to your workplace accident. These can include:
- Disability payments
- Medical expenses, medical care, and ongoing medical treatment
- Lost wages
- Death benefits
If you suffer any level of temporary or permanent disability in Virginia, whether total or partial disability, workers’ compensation allows you to receive compensation and benefits for your inability to work. Disability benefits are paid out based on the level and duration of your disability as follows.
- Temporary total disability: Temporary total disability means that you cannot work at all, but you are expected to recover eventually. This level covers your medical expenses as long as you need them and a portion of your lost wages.
- Temporary partial disability: Temporary partial disability refers to disabilities where you can work at a reduced level or with modified duties. It also assumes that you will eventually get better. Again, you will receive medical costs and a portion of your lost wages.
- Permanent partial disability: This level of disability sees you performing reduced work duties and assumes that you have reached a state of maximum medical improvement (MMI) and that you will no longer get better. In this case, the doctor will give you a disability rating expressed as a percentage. Your disability payments will be prorated based on this percentage. Receiving permanent partial disability benefits requires a medical report from your treating physician including the disability rating, as well as supporting documentation depending on the type of disability for which you are applying (disfigurement, scarring, amputation, or other).
- Permanent total disability: If you are completely disabled and unable to do any sort of work after you achieve a state of MMI, you may be entitled to disability benefits that last the rest of your life.
Disability payments can get especially tricky in the case of invisible injuries such as those that come with a brain injury. Your workers’ compensation attorney can help you gather the necessary proof of disabilities caused by any invisible injuries.
Medical Expenses, Medical Care, and Ongoing Medical Treatment
These cover medical treatments to address injured workers’ injuries as much as possible. Medical expense benefits can cover doctor’s visits, hospitalization, physical therapy, medical tests, prostheses, prescription drugs, and all other medical treatments you may need.
In addition to injuries, medical care can cover work-related illnesses like exposure to toxic chemicals or occupational disease. Coverage may include ongoing medical treatment as part of the comp benefits received if an injured employee suffers a persistent occupational illness or an injury requiring continuous care.
Lost wages cover your inability to earn money because you cannot work due to your injury. These wage benefits are equal to 66 ⅔% of your regular weekly wages, based on your earnings for the year prior to your injury. This amount is, however, subject to Virginia’s statewide maximum that is revisited and adjusted on a regular basis. Your workers’ comp attorney can help you determine how much you may be eligible to receive.
Death benefits are available to dependents of a worker whose injury results in death. They cover all the medical costs of the deceased, reasonable transportation benefits up to $1,000, and reasonable funeral and burial costs up to $10,000. Dependents may also receive compensation for lost wages that the deceased would have used to support them. To receive death benefits, you must provide a copy of the death certificate.
Death benefits from a workers’ comp claim differ from a wrongful death suit, which relies on proving negligence. Your claim for death benefits under the workers’ compensation system has nothing to do with fault. It simply means you lost a close loved one due to a work-related accident.
What Should I Do If I Am Injured on the Job?
If you are injured in Virginia, you will need to take specific steps to file a workers’ comp claim. The first step is to immediately report the injury to your employer. You have 30 days to report the injury, but it is always better to report earlier rather than later.
The clock begins ticking from either the date the accident occurs or the date that your doctor says you are suffering from a work-related injury. This is an important distinction, as repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome may take a long time to present, as can work-related illnesses from gradual exposure to toxic substances over time.
Your employer may authorize a doctor at the time of the accident, and if they do, you should see the doctor they recommend. You may be able to switch doctors later, and your attorney can help you with that, but in the beginning, it is important to do everything by the book. If your employer or their insurance carrier fails to respond to your request to get treated, you can contact the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Next, file a report of the accident with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. This is different from other states where the employer is expected to begin the claims process. In Virginia, to protect your rights, it is incumbent upon you, the injured employee, to file the claim directly with the commission. You have two years to file this report, but again, the sooner you file, the better off you will be. You can complete this claim form in person, by mail, or online, or you can fax it to the commission.
Finally, seek help from a workers’ compensation attorney. This may be the most important step you take, as far too many people every year are unfairly denied benefits because of avoidable errors due to the complexity of the system.
Can I Collect Social Security Disability and Workers’ Comp?
Yes, you can collect both Social Security disability benefits and workers’ compensation benefits in Virginia. The total amount you collect, however, cannot be more than 80% of your pre-disability wages. If the amount would be greater, your SSDI benefits will be reduced accordingly. Fighting for workers’ compensation and SSDI benefits at the same can get complicated.
If your workers’ compensation benefits run out, your Social Security disability benefits should return to their full amount if they have previously been reduced, plus any cost-of-living increases that may have been granted in the interim. This is another case where it is essential to seek help from a qualified Virginia injury attorney who can help you navigate the complexities of the law and get you the full benefits you deserve.
Do I Need an Attorney for a Workers’ Comp Case in Virginia?
In Virginia, while there is no law requiring you to hire a workers’ comp lawyer, it is often essential to get the fair settlement that you deserve. The right workers’ compensation lawyer can help you work through the complexities of the law and fight to make sure the insurance company benefits cover all your work-related injury expenses. Your workers’ comp injury attorney will also help you consider all the associated costs for both you and your dependents.
Virginia state laws, however, require strict adherence to deadlines. This means that if you do not file the necessary paperwork in a timely manner, you could put your claim at risk, giving the insurance carrier an opening to deny the coverage to which you have legal rights.
In addition, you will need to prove that your injuries are related to a work accident or illness, and that means having specific medical documentation. Your experienced workers’ comp injury lawyer will help you file the right paperwork in a timely manner so that you can focus on getting your life back, healing from your injury, and getting back to work without putting your claim at risk.
The short answer, then, is that you should absolutely contact a qualified and experienced workers’ comp attorney like Montagna Law.
Why Choose Montagna Law for Your Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Montagna Law is an experienced law firm with practice areas in all types of personal injury cases. Virginia workers’ compensation is one of the areas in which we have decades of experience, both on land and at sea. We work tirelessly to help our clients fight for fair and adequate compensation, no matter how complex the workers’ comp case gets. We will help make sure that you meet all your deadlines, complete your paperwork properly, and gather all the medical evidence you need to keep your claim valid.
Our law firm’s award-winning team is regularly among the top 10 firms in the region. We are completely client-focused and pride ourselves in our constant communication. We return calls promptly, speak plainly so you can understand what is going on, and provide consistent updates about your case so that you are always in the loop. You will not work with administrative staff when you contact us; you will work directly with your attorney throughout your entire case.
You will encounter no surprises, no unexpected fees, and no fine print. We work hard to maintain your trust the whole way, and we bring decades of experience and resources to the table. We will spend all the time we need to understand your background, goals, and individualities of your specific case. Your needs are our guiding star every step of the way.
We serve the entire Hampton Roads area, including Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, and Chesapeake. We fight for you and your rights, and we have testimonials from hundreds of satisfied clients over the years.
Hold Your Workplace Accountable for Your Injury
If you are facing confusion or unfair denial of your work-related injury claim, it does not have to be the end of the road. We are here to help you fight for the benefits you deserve and protect your legal rights. The insurance company is not your friend, but we can be the ally you need when you need it the most. We can take on the stress of the fight with your employer and the insurance carrier so you can focus on the more important fight to get well again and regain control of your life.
Contact us today for a completely free consultation at 757-622-8100 or by using our online form. Let the experienced workers’ comp attorneys at the Montagna Klein Camden law firm fight for you.