How Does Workers’ Compensation Work In Virginia?
Virginia workers hurt on the job are protected by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act. It requires most employers to carry workers’ comp insurance so that employees who are injured or develop an illness due to their work can get reimbursed for their medical bills and missed wages.
If you have a work-related injury or illness in VA, you probably have questions on workers’ comp law. Are you eligible for workers’ comp benefits? What are the benefits you are entitled to? How much can you claim? How do you file? Here is an overview.
Are You Eligible for Virginia Workers’ Comp?
In general, if you were hurt while doing your work as an employee, you may be eligible for workers’ comp payments. Under the VA Workers’ Compensation Act, there are two kinds of covered injuries or illnesses:
- It occurred at work or during a work-related activity. This is not limited to workplace injuries. If you got hurt during a work trip or while running a work errand, you may still be covered.
- It was caused by a specific work activity, or occurred at a specific time. Workplace accidents such as tripping and falling are obvious examples. However, injuries and illnesses don’t have to be ‘sudden accidents’ to qualify. For example, a firefighter who gets injured during an hour-long rescue would still be eligible for workers’ comp. In some cases, repetitive or cumulative injuries – such as carpal tunnel syndrome or hearing loss – may also warrant benefits if it is established that they occurred during a period of time at work.
In addition, you must check that your employer is subject to the Workers’ Compensation Act, and that you are legally their employee. According to the law, any employer that employs more than three or more regular employees is required to have workers’ comp insurance. This insurance covers legally hired employees, while independent contractors are not required by law to be covered.
How Are Workers’ Compensation Benefits Calculated?
The various benefits you may claim under Virginia workers’ comp include:
- Lifetime medical benefits – This is medical coverage for the treatment of your work injury and any related conditions at any time for the rest of your life.
- Wage loss replacement for Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
- Wage loss replacement for Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
- Payments for Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
- Payments for Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)
- Death benefits if your family member was the one who suffered fatal injuries at work.
The wage loss reimbursement formula for Temporary Total Disability is:
- Two-thirds of your average weekly wage (AWW) for a maximum of 500 weeks.
Example: Your average weekly wage is $900. Two-thirds of that is $600, and that’s how much you may claim.
Here’s the formula for wage replacement for Temporary Partial Disability:
- Two-thirds of the difference between your weekly wage pre-injury and your weekly wage post-injury, for a maximum of 500 weeks.
Example: Before your injury, you were paid $900 per week. After your injury, you had to change your job and are now paid $600 per week. The difference between the two is $300. Two-thirds of that is $200, and that’s how much you may claim.
For permanent disability, the weekly payment is also two-thirds of your average weekly wage, but the compensation period depends on the severity of the injury. You can find the list of permanent disabilities and their corresponding compensation periods here.
How Do I File a Virginia Worker’s Comp Claim?
- Report your injury to your employer as soon as you can. Any delay in reporting may be used against your claim, and Virginia law requires you to notify your employer within 30 days of your injury. Keep a copy of your written report.
- File a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. You must do this within two years of your injury. The Commission’s website gives full instructions on filing, whether in person, by mail, by fax, or via the internet (see them here).
- As soon as your employer is notified, they are required to file a “First Report of Injury” with the Commission as well. In turn, the Commission will send you information on your worker’s rights and responsibilities.
- Your employer also has 20 days to respond to the claim that you filed with the Commission.
- If your claim is approved, you will receive an Award Agreement. This must be signed by all parties involved, then filed again with the Commission so it can become an Award Order.
- If your claim is denied, the Commission will call a hearing. Here, you must present strong evidence and effectively assert your case to a Deputy Commissioner. You can then expect their written decision after the hearing.
Contact Slominski Law
Slominski Law is a homegrown law firm trusted by workers in Lynchburg & Roanoke VA and beyond. Attorney Jaleh K. Slominski likes to work closely with each client, understanding the intricacies of their workers’ compensation case and strategizing thoroughly for their success.
Your initial consultation with us is completely free. Call us today at (434) 384-9400 or (540) 554-3762 or reach us through our online contact form.